Wednesday, April 2, 2014

City Attorney advises Council to close ears to Mosque Land Use issues - possible appeal

Anyone interested in the Mosque Land Use Action on 51st Street should listen to the last part of Tuesday's City Council meeting.  Mr. Haney, the City Attorney gave a study session to Council on the Roles and Responsibilities of Elected Officials where he specifically addressed the Mosque issue.

The Mosque Land Use Action is a Type 2 Permit decided by city staff (Technical Committee) appealable to the Hearing Examiner (closed record) with the Examiner's decision appealable to City Council in Quasi Judicial proceedings.  Haney advised council that even though the Hearing Examiner's proceedings are not Quasi Judicial that Council should not read emails or talk to citizens making comment on the land use.  Haney based his recommendation on "Appearance of Fairness" doctrine where council needs to appear unbiased should the appeal go to Council.  Also, in a closed record proceeding only those comments and evidence submitted to the Hearing Examiner are considered admissible when Council hears an appeal.  So Council remains pure from extraneous comments if they keep out of it.   

Councilmember Kim Allen, the city Ombudsman for the month said she did not read any emails that came in from concerned citizens about the Mosque.  She is a land use attorney.  Comments sent in by the comment deadline are considered admissible for the Hearing Examiner's record during an appeal.  Comments made to the Hearing Examiner during an appeal to the Examiner are also items for the record which the Council could hear in their Appeal should it go that far.  In Quasi-Judicial proceedings Council may not take comment from any party.

Haney referenced the Redmond Bike Park and Tent City as similar Type 2 Land Use Permits that hindered Council's interaction with the public.  The City of Redmond is one of the few cities in Washington State that uses the Quasi-Judicial system for land use appeals.

Reported By Bob Yoder

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