Washington County supervisors table action on zoning ordinance
By LINDA WENGER
Golden Triangle News Service
WASHINGTON — The first topic of discussion for the Washington County Board of Supervisors Tuesday morning was a resolution to rescind the county’s zoning ordinance. In just seconds, the supervisors found themselves looking at four drafts of resolutions and ordinance.
Zoning Administrator Steve Lafaurie came to the table to be part of the discussion about a proposed resolution to rescind zoning. He said that he had been on vacation last week and didn’t see the supervisors’ draft resolution. He also told the board that they don’t need a resolution.
“All that’s needed is an ordinance,” Lafaurie said. He then handed out a document to the supervisors that he had edited, which included a draft resolution and a draft ordinance.
Supervisor Jack Seward stopped Lafaurie and said that according to Washington County Attorney Larry Brock in a letter dated June 6, the supervisors needed to approve a resolution.
Brock, sitting next to Lafaurie, said he would explain and said that he gave the supervisors a draft ordinance to rescind zoning on June 25.
“As I looked into it,” he said, “the resolution is not needed. All you need is the ordinance.”
He also passed out a draft ordinance to the supervisors.
“To short-circuit this process, I’ve looked at what Steve has done and I took what you had drafted, Jack,” Brock said. “I have a final version here which incorporates your language, adds a few things. This is ready to go. All you need to do is have a public hearing on this and move forward to get this thing moving.”
He and Lafaurie then critiqued the supervisors’ ordinance. Brock said that he found some of the reasons to rescind zoning as misleading. Lafaurie also told the supervisors the portions of their resolution that he thought “were not supported by facts” and one section that was “overreaching.”
Lafaurie did recommend the board pass a floodplain ordinance before they rescind zoning. He said that not doing so could interfere with homeowners who have flood insurance.
Supervisor Stan Stoops said that the supervisors have been to another attorney for legal advice.
Brock interrupted Stoops, who said, “I am not done!” He also said that Brock had “jumped ship” last week, referring to Brock’s letter about a conflict of interest with two supervisors. He also told Brock that he does not trust Brock’s legal advice.
Brock told him that his draft of the ordinance was “Jack’s ordinance.”
“So you don’t trust Jack’s ordinance,” he said.
Seward drew the county officials together and said his draft was for discussion purposes. He did not want to blame any of the individuals involved in the various drafts. He wanted to come up with a proper way of rescinding the zoning ordinance.
Board chairman Ron Bennett wanted to know why Lafaurie hadn’t cleared up the problem with the resolution versus an ordinance.
“It takes an ordinance to change an ordinance,” Lafaurie said.
After more discussion, Stoops said he wanted to wait a week before taking action on an ordinance. However, he asked Brock and Lafaurie, “What are you guys going to come in here with next week?”
Lafaurie said that everything he has done is to help the board.
Seward said he wanted to move on to the next item on the agenda, which was about the county attorney’s letter asking the board to hire outside counsel.
Brock said that last week he took a “conservative approach” about his conflict of interest with the board of supervisors. He said he was rescinding that request.
None of the supervisors commented on the topic.