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Whidbey recycling on block at first night meeting

Island County Board of Commissioner Chair Kelly Emerson listens as Public Works Director Bill Oakes discusses the controversial recycling ordinance which may be revoked this month.  - Justin Burnett / The Record
Island County Board of Commissioner Chair Kelly Emerson listens as Public Works Director Bill Oakes discusses the controversial recycling ordinance which may be revoked this month.
— image credit: Justin Burnett / The Record

The Island County commissioners will hold their first regular nighttime meeting this month and one of the first items on the agenda will be the repeal of a controversial curbside recycling ordinance.

The board recently unanimously adopted a code amendment that changes the official start time of the commissioners’ fourth Monday meeting of the month (April 22) from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.

The goal is to increase public input and participation by having at least one meeting at night when people aren’t at work. The commissioners also agreed to modify the existing code to bring the board into better compliance with the rules.

The code used to say that, when possible, public hearings should be held at night, but it was a practice followed only occasionally on matters of great public interest, such as the consideration last year of the shoreline master program.

The board’s decision last week softened that requirement to hearings of “significant impact” so that the commissioners could retain the flexibility to take action on timely day-to-day issues.

While the board agreed to the changes unanimously, the same can not be said for curbside recycling, which will be one of the first major issues heard at the new nighttime meeting.

“I don’t intend to support this,” Commissioner Helen Price Johnson said at a work session.

Under discussion for five years, the “level-of-service” ordinance was approved last year during the final days of a Democrat-led board, which included Price Johnson and former commissioner Angie Homola.

The new service was to be launched later this year and would be mandatory for Island Disposal customers who subscribe to trash pickup in Langley and rural areas of Island County.

The law had been on the books less than a month, however, when the two Republican commissioners began talking about scrapping the unpopular program before it got started.

The board reaffirmed the plan last month when commissioners Kelly Emerson and Jill Johnson scheduled the formal ordinance repeal for the first evening meeting agenda.

Price Johnson made it clear that she continues to support the curbside service, saying it not only has widespread community support but that it’s a needed program. This is an issue that won’t go away, she said.

“This county will reconsider it at some point in the future,” Price Johnson said. “It’s going to happen.”

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. Monday, April 22, and will be held in the Commissioners Hearing Room, 1 N.E. Sixth St., Coupeville.

 

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