Out of My Mind 10

Comp Plan in need of he KISS method

Although it was probably all done with the best of intentions, it appears the county’s draft for an updated Comprehensive Plan is growing into a beast that needs taming. The Coalition for Property Rights has stepped in to take on the issue and hopefully we end up with a much simpler document, which is probably what we needed in the first place.

The neighborhood meetings were a good way to get the most public input on the plan, but they also helped to grow the draft in such a way that it was getting too complicated and some would say too restrictive for our way of life in our little corner of God’s country. Everyone had a different idea of what was best for their piece – the Methow, north, south and mid-county. In the end it seemed like several mini comp plans were being designed. The Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) method might be best applied here.

We need planning, whether we are part of the state’s Growth Management Act or not, but we also need to remember that despite being the largest county in the state, very little of the land, perhaps 20 percent, is in private ownership. The majority of the land is in state, federal or Tribal ownership and what little private ownership we have we value and wince at other people telling us what we can and can’t do with it – especially when the words “public good” start getting bandied about.

The public good should be more like being a good neighbor, rather then your neighbor telling you what you can do with your property. Most of us have a pretty good idea of what should and shouldn’t be done on our land and if not, I’m pretty sure the state or federal government would be more than willing to step in and tell us – using one of the myriad of laws already on the books.

It’s ironic, that rules being pursued to protect our agriculture actually were making people with agricultural land feel they were having their land devalued. These good intentions on the county’s part, some said, were locking their land up. Farmers were feeling they could get stuck with an agriculture designation and that rather then having options to sell for the best price – if that meant taking it out of agriculture, they had no option.

This isn’t the first time the county felt it should decide who you get to sell your land to. Several years back when a local rancher tried to follow his dad’s dream and sell a big chunk of land to the state for deer habitat he met opposition from those who usually say property rights are sacrosanct. After the then county commissioners and a few state legislators, all Republicans, stepped in the state backed out of the deal. The land is now part of the Nine Mile Ranch development. I guess property rights didn’t extend to selling to the state.

The comp plan is still a draft, albeit a wordy one. There is still time to simplify it and keep some of the protections, without changing the whole way we do things in the county. We’re not under GMA yet and maybe we should enjoy the freedom that offers while we still can.

About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He is single with a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.

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