This is the new Chapter 17 of the city’s municipal code. Adopted with this is the Public Participation Program (PPP) Handbook. Both of these documents can be found on the city’s website, http://cityofraymond.com/ (or just Google City of Raymond, Wa), under Public Notices, under Public Participation.
Also, on the page’s lower right-hand side, is the web connection to the city’s Public Works Department for website suggestions and comments.
During negotiating Ordinance 1809 and the PPP Handbook, an opinion that kept surfacing was that requiring public participation would be inconsequential and a waste of time, because the majority of Raymond citizens do not take notice of, nor attend, public hearings, meetings, or workshops. Nor do they respond to public comment periods.
Over the next couple of years, the city will be revising its comprehensive plan, and therefore its development concept and regulations for future growth and development. By law, the city is required to bring in citizen participation. This is outlined in the handbook. The flip side of this is that the citizens need to want to become informed and involved.
Regardless of differences of opinion about specifics, the newly proposed agricultural development within the city’s manufacturing zone will require amending the city’s comprehensive plan. The PPP Handbook will direct public participation. In concept, the citizens should guide the city’s development, not the other way around. Again, this system only works with citizens exercising their right to be informed and involved.
Being informed is key. When appealing to the Planning Commission or the Raymond City Council with concerns about land use and planning, emotions do not count — only facts do. Citizens become informed by getting involved. The city is required to post on their website limited documents relating to comprehensive plan amendments and revisions. All documents relating the comprehensive plan are to be made readily available to the public at City Hall. The citizens have the right to further information with public record requests. Being informed is key to knowing what to ask for or research.
Misusing the right to request public records by purposely requesting an excessive amount of these documents as a form of protest is counterproductive. It hinders those legitimately looking for information or wanting to be involved.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on www.hometowndebate.com 4/10/13. If you would like to respond to this story go to hometowndebate.com