SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska



Integrity & ethical behavior lacking
By Jon T. Van Essen


April 25, 2006

I would like my feelings to be known on how our local planning and zoning commission lacks integrity and somehow has no concept of ethical behavior when it come to the residents of Bear Valley. I am referring to the meeting of 25 May 2006 in regards to Mr. Lybrand's asphalt and concrete plant. The meeting was called to reconsider a decision to allow Bicknell Inc. to operate the asphalt plant that was denied at a previous meeting. Since Mr. Johnson was allowed to bypass the appeal process and directly contact commission members to state his case as to why the commission should reconsider, you can imagine how upset my neighbors and I were when the commission chair Mr. Kelly denied any further public comment before the issue went up for a vote.

So since my fellow Bear Valley residents were denied the chance to give any comment and somehow Mr. Johnson (Bicknell inc.) was, maybe Mr. Kelly and his fellow commission members can answer a few questions publicly that I was denied to ask at the Commission meeting.

1. Why was Mr. Johnson allowed to approach members of the commission the day after the permit was denied when Mr. Lybrand was the one requesting the permit? I believe if since he (Mr. Lybrand) requested the permit he should have filed an appeal so he could state his case again to the commission. I was told after the meeting that if I wasn't happy with the decision I would have to appeal at a cost to me of $250.00. I guess Mr. Lybrand is exempt from this fee somehow.

2. Since when is it the Commissions responsibility to worry about a business s contractual obligations when making a decision on whether or not to grant or deny a permit? I don't see how Bicknell could have obligated themselves into a contract without making sure they had all the required permits before committing themselves to a contract. Were they assured ahead of time the permits would be approved? Or did they just figure they would somehow hold it over the commission's head that it would be their fault if they couldn't complete the job on time because they were denied a permit.

3. Why did the commission deny this type of activity for two other areas in our community (Carlanna and Shore Line drive) but somehow this type of activity is OK for Bear Valley? Is it because property values in those areas exceed $300K and the average property value of Bear Valley is less than $200K? I suppose if your property value of certain areas exceeds a certain amount your voice will be heard and the request will be denied.

My last point I'd like to make before I finish venting to somehow make myself feel better, my hope is that the commission is not setting a precedence to other would-be businesses or future endeavors of Mr. Lybrand's that might apply for a permit then claim contractual obligations in order to get it. I somehow had the belief that our local government was suppose to look out for the residents of the community it serves not businesses that practice poor decision making policies. My home is 950 feet from these plants, would anyone on the commission approve this type of activity if it were 950 feet from their homes? I think not.

Jon T. Van Essen
Ketchikan, AK - USA

About: Jon T. Van Essen has served 21 plus years Active Duty in the Coast Guard with 5 Tours of duty in Alaska and 3 in Ketchikan. He is retiring this summer in Ketchikan.

Note: Comments published on Viewpoints are the opinions of the writer
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Sitnews.


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