Island County’s longtime hearing examiner is likely to be replaced

For the first time in more than 30 years, there will be a new face settling planning disputes in Island County — a couple new names, in fact.

Last week, Planning Director Hiller West recommended the county contract with Sound Law Center for hearing examiner services to replace long-time hearing examiner Michael Bobbink. Commissioners are expected to sign the agreement at their Oct. 22 regular meeting.

Sound Law Center has two hearing examiners who would be available to the county upon request, according to its application. The firm works with more than 30 jurisdictions, including Coupeville and Langley. The position issues decisions in matters such as appeals of building permit approval or denial.

Bobbink has been the hearing examiner for Oak Harbor for many years.

In June, commissioners said they didn’t think Bobbink was fulfilling the obligations in his contract, which expired Sept. 15. He was supposed to use his experience to help fix areas of the code that were inconsistent or erroneous.

A primary hearing examiner at Sound Law Center has said he would regularly provide recommendations for code cleanup “that will enhance its effectiveness and ease of understanding,” West said in an email.

He said he recommended the firm because of its range of experiences gained providing the services across the state and its local experience from working with Langley and Coupeville.

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