Wahkiakum County Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee
October 15, 2003
Members Present Others Present
Tom Doumit Terry Irving, Planning Commission
Ken Scholes Melissa Taylor, CWCOG
1. Project Update
Last meeting was a departure back to economic development strategy to explore the concept of community forestry and how it is implemented. Tonight‘s meeting is a resumption of the discussion on housing, and how new development relates to ―rural character.‖ Melissa asked the group to participate in the community image survey before returning to a discussion of just what constitutes ―rural character.‖
2. Group Discussion
Before going into the community image survey, several committee members expressed opinions about the planning process and the potential products of that process.
; Ruth observed that there has been a great deal of public discussion in Clatsop
County regarding a new zoning ordinance based on their planning process. She
commented that she could identify with that situation and shared that she had been
reading the 1985 Wahkiakum County Comprehensive Plan. She is very interested in
how things will be implemented in the new plan, as it seems that there is quite a bit in
the 1985 plan that has not yet happened.
; Ken stated that the Economic Development Council will implement portions of the
plan that relate to economic development, on an on-going basis. ; Kyle observed that the comprehensive plan is by definition a huge effort covering lots
; Tom stated that he sees the plan as a long-term vision, not necessarily with specific
projects. A list of (county) projects might limit its flexibility. ; Kyle suggested that an implementation strategy will keep the plan from simply
acknowledging the status quo.
; Melissa outlined the typical process where projects are included in a comprehensive
plan for ongoing budget processes such as capital improvements programming and
to provide documentation for grant applications.
; Terry recalled how much controversy was generated by the 1985 plan, and
suggested that this plan take that history into consideration. Page 1
; Melissa stated that the county has received grant funding from the state to update
the county subdivision and critical area regulations so that they are in sync with the
comprehensive plan. These are some important implementation tools for the plan,
but certainly not the only ones available.
; Ruth quoted from the 1985 plan recommendations, which cited the need for
―coherent policy direction…efficiency measures…and quality control standards…in
; David Vik commented that there had been some positive changes in the county, over
time. He added that change is slow in government by design, due to requirements
and expectations for fairness and accountability regarding public expenditures. This
requires more of a process than private sector decision-making. He referred to
recent events in the news regarding poor decisions made by some corporations and
investment firms as a case in point.
; Terry recalled that over 300 people attended a hearing on the county‘s first building
code. He emphasized that the plan should be conservative in its approach. He added
that the planning commission uses the comp plan in decision making. At times, state
agencies interfere with local rules to implement local plans.
; Tom suggested that plan language should be very general.
; Melissa observed that the group is working from the most general level down to more
specifics, to where a common comfort level can be reached.
; David added that the current plan is sometimes too vague, and doesn‘t provide
enough guidance. It is hard to strike the right balance.
; Ruth commented that there are quite a few recent residents to the county who don‘t
have history of the progress made over time, and they may not be as patient as
others. She also suggested that the plan format have a user-friendly orientation,
perhaps incorporating a topical index.
Visual Preference Survey
Melissa distributed an informational sheet about Visual Preference Surveys (VPS), also referred to as community image surveys. These tools have been used across the country in urban and rural areas to help groups define what qualities make up local community character.
The group viewed a selection of 40 slides from a rural area that contained various types of development, including isolated residential, subdivisions, commercial areas, public buildings, art, and streets. Each participant assigned a score to each image, with +5 representing a high degree of visual appeal and a score of –5 representing undesirable
images. Prior to starting the survey, Ruth mentioned a definition of rural character found in Clatsop County‘s plan as describing ―…modest incomes and lifestyles, ‗unkempt charm,‘ with farm and forestry activities‖.
The results of the survey are scored and attached along with a copy of each image in a separate document.
Rural Character Qualities
The group conducted a brainstorming exercise to list all of the qualities they could
associate with ―rural character,‖ listed below.
; No cell phones
; Productive land—agriculture—beauty in that
; Tree-lined winding roads
; Friendly, distant neighbors
; Quiet neighbors
; Caring people and a sense of community ; Tolerance for natural odors
; Tolerance for the way things are
; Visually uncrowded—not cluttered with buildings ; No strip malls
; No Superfund sites
; Public access to natural settings (woods, beach, river, etc.)
; Hidden garbage dumps
; Rooted in tradition
; Non-urban culture
; Small, good schools
; Education is valued
; Minimal industrial pollution
; Small government
; Need adequate fire & medical services ; Sparser/less population; low density
; Affordable taxation
; Able to herd cows/livestock down the road ; Relatively less crime
; People know each other—can‘t hide behind ―urban anonymity‖
; Living in a community where you can go to the cemetery and recognize family names
; Not lost in numbers
; Private property ―urination privileges‖ (You can take a nature break from the back porch
because no one is near enough to notice) ; Natural resource based economy
; Small-unit industry (5 or less employees) ; People with versatile skill sets
; Buildings with character
; Coyotes and frogs
3. Committee Questions/Comments/Suggestions Melissa handed out copies of two articles from AARP‘s website: ‖The 15 Best Places to
Reinvent Your Life‖ and ―Checklist: 20 Ways to Pick the City That‘s Best for You.‖
4. Upcoming Meetings thThe next regularly scheduled meeting will be November 5 at 6:30 p.m.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:45 p.m.
0265 Steering Committee Meeting Summary 10 15 03