November 3, 2007

Hearing set to review recall effort in Kittitas County

A Kittitas County Superior Court judge will decide next week whether an effort to recall the three county commissioners should proceed to signature-gathering and an election.

An Ellensburg land-use consultant is seeking to recall the commissioners after they challenged the state’s approval for a wind farm.

The consultant, Desmond Knudson, also charges the commissioners with misconduct and violating their oaths of office in approving a development code and a comprehensive plan update that has been deemed to violate state law.

The wind farm, to be located 12 miles northwest of Ellensburg, has been a controversial subject in the county. Commissioners initially denied an application to erect the wind turbines because of their proximity to rural homes.

The developer, after reducing the project from 121 turbines to 65, appealed to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, which twice approved the project.

Gov. Chris Gregoire ultimately approved the project, prompting the commissioners to appeal.

Judge Michael Cooper will conduct a hearing at 3 p.m. Thursday to decide whether allegations against commissioners meet requirements outlined in state law to support a recall.

Knudson said Friday he is happy he will get his day in court.

The statements of charges involve the development code update, voting for the comprehensive plan update, failure to uphold the majority will of county residents, and the wind farm appeal.

Should Cooper decide the charges are sufficiently supported by state law, recall backers would have six months to obtain enough petition signatures for a recall election to be conducted.

Backers must obtain a number of signatures equal to 35 percent of all votes cast for the positions when the three sitting commissioners were elected.

Commissioner David Bowen, a Democrat, and Alan Crankovich, a Republican, were elected in 2004. Their terms expire next year.

Republican Mark McClain was elected last year.

Commissioners have not commented on the recall effort.

By David Lester

Yakima Herald-Republic

3 November 2007

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