Thursday, March 24, 2016

Alaska legislation would let project opponents "phone in" their testimony during quasi-judicial proceedings

From the Alaska News Miner:

Currently, people affected by a land use proposal, such as a request for a conditional use permit, are required to attend such quasi-judicial hearings if they want to weigh in. 

The rule, which also applies in land use appeals, is in place so that affected people can be sworn in and cross examined. 

Under Ordinance 2015-74, they can make arrangements to phone into the meeting or to submit an affidavit.

“If you got a ‘Dear property owner’ letter, then you could have come and testified in the first place.  You should be allowed, even if there is a scheduling conflict, to somehow get your testimony in there,” said Fairbanks North Star Borough Assemblywoman Diane Hutchison.

Hutchison is a sponsor of the measure along with Assemblywomen Kathryn Dodge and Janice Golub. 

The assemblywoman said she is trying to make the process easier for people affected by proposed land use changes in their neighborhoods.

“I definitely think it’s too limiting the way it is,” Hutchison said. “We’ve witnessed where people could have attended a meeting but the meeting got changed.”

The process is conducted at the convenience of the applicant for the land use change, Hutchison said, without as much consideration for other affected parties. 

“If the date doesn’t fit them, how do they get their testimony heard?”

Full article here.

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