The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 43 - 6/22/00
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The effort to update the Sublette County Comprehensive Plan is in disarray. The effort was begun in February, and four months later, the Steering Committee has yet to meet. No completion date or objective has been identified, and Planning & Zoning Commission members now say the update may take up to 2 1/2 years.
Meanwhile, the five or six focus groups are hard at work updating their sections of the current master plan. Unfortunately, they've been given little or no direction from the Planning & Zoning Commission, and are completing their work at different paces. Some focus groups are meeting weekly, others monthly. No target completion dates have been handed down to the focus group chairman, and no set format has been decided for the final plan.
When I pointed out my concerns to Comprehensive Plan Update Steering Committee Chairwoman and Planning and Zoning Board member Suzy Michnevich, she was incredulous. Although she is just one vote on the 12-member Steering Committee, and was appointed, not elected chair, she absolutely refuses to hold a Steering Committee meeting. She says she doesn't want the Steering Committee to step on the toes of any of the work or recommendations from one or more of the focus groups. She won't call a Steering Committee meeting until one of the focus groups is ready with its recommendations.
Of course, she doesn't know when this will be, because no one is keeping track of the focus groups' progress.
Since last Thursday's P&Z meeting, I spoke with four other Steering Committee members. Two, Ed Wood and Marlenn Wise, agreed with Ms. Michnevich, and don't think the Steering Committee should meet until it has recommendations from the focus groups to consider. However, the two other members, Eric Petersen and Nancy Espenscheid, disagreed with Suzy, and felt the Steering Committee should be meeting regularly. Mr. Petersen told me he didn't see any downside to the Steering Committee meeting. "Nothing but positive," he said. Eric's right.
However, because Ms. Michnevich has refused to hold a meeting, the Steering Committee, as a body, hasn't been able to decide its role, set direction (i.e. "Steer"), or even establish its own meeting schedule. Ms. Michnevich is just one vote on the committee, but is ruling it like a dictator. Meanwhile, county land use continues to change rapidly. This week we learned that two more ranches are for sale and Ron Saypol is putting in another large štract development. I wonder what the county will look like in 2 1/2 years when the Comprehensive Plan is finally updated?
Overall, I think this effort is being managed way too "loosey goosey" for my military mind (to borrow a phrase from Gordon Johnston). The volunteers on the focus groups are putting in long hours and working hard on their sections of the plan, while those in charge wait for something to happen. This isn't right.
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