Town can't violate its own rules

Letter to the Editor


Last updated 1/20/2016 at 10:35am

As you know, the town council directed that the Public Works Department to remove a healthy ornamental cherry tree within the town’s right-of-way. Subsequently, the mayor immediately directed that the town administration (including Public Works) take NO action, pending a review of our attorney(s) and the CDMC requirements thereto. I am suggesting that the council rescind its prior action.

The town council cannot deliberately cause us to violate our own applicable code provisions. If you want to ignore/violate our code, first change the ordinances,plans and codes applicable. We are limited and defined by the applicable ordinances, codes, and statutes. Please review our Ordinances #726, #646, and the GMA adopted Town Comprehensive Plan under chapter nine.

The town council, mayor, and staff are required to protect town “infrastructure” (and that includes town-owned trees within the right-of-way) unless there is a compelling reason otherwise. As per this issue, we are uncertain as to which specific tree or trees are actually defined by the town council and on what issue/basis. To our knowledge, we could find no building permits or other applicable permits issued to the applicant (Bruce Bartoo) specific relating to 310 Stevens, 315 Stevens, or 316 Columbia. In the case of 315 Stevens, this tree is healthy, the applicable sidewalk meets standards, and the side-sewer is noted as “clear to the main.” These specific trees are considered as healthy and mature. As an addition point, a prior town council member (Bob Poch) personally requested authority to remove “a” tree owned by Bartoo on Dec. 23, 2015. He was informed that the tree could not be removed pending applicable process and procedures.

Coulee Medical Center ER and Walk-In Care

Additionally, NO public individual or contractor can take, remove, put to personal use, or otherwise deface town property. There are a litany of reasons… insurance liability, vandalism relating to criminal actions, civil penalties/actions, gift-of-funds limitations, contract violations, tort risks, and more.

Typically, the town council has the authority to formulate and adopt policy, and the mayor the authority to carry them out. It is important to recognize that it is not the role of a council member to administer city affairs. Simply put, the town council sets applicable policy, and the mayor actually sees that the policies are implemented. This means that it is not the role of a council member to supervise city employees on the job or attempt to become involved in the day-to-day administration of city affairs.

Greg Wilder

Mayor of Coulee Dam


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