News

Planning chairman resigns

By Brian Beckley

The Courier-Herald

After six years on the planning commission, four of them as chairman, Steve Burnham has announced his resignation.

"It's been a nice journey for the last six years or so," he said at the end of his final meeting as a member of the board.

Burnham joined the planning commission in 1999 and was selected chairman by other members of the board in 2001.

Burnham, an attorney for Investco, said his business responsibilities have changed and the new workload will make it difficult to continue to his work with the commission.

"I just can't continue to commit that much time," he said after the meeting.

Burnham also added that with the commission full of "good people" it seemed like a "good time" to step down, though he said he looks forward to coming before the board as a concerned citizen.

"I'll be able to come in and hold their feet to the fire," he said.

Burnham was recently the target of a conflict-of-interest inquiry and was cleared of all allegations against him, but he said that had nothing to do with his decision to leave.

"If that was going to make me quit, I'd have quit then," he said.

The Planning Commission, which is appointed by the mayor, is also considered by some to be a stepping stone to elective office. Mayor Bob Young, for example, started his career in city politics as a planning commission member. Burnham, however, dismissed outright any possibility of running for office in the near future because of the time commitment necessary for the job.

"I have no political aspiration for any elected offices in Bonney Lake," he said

Young commended Burnham on his service to the city.

"We really appreciate the years Steve put in on the planning commission," he said. "He did a good job."

Councilman Dave King called Burnham's tenure some of the "toughest years Bonney Lake has faced" in terms of growth, growth management and zoning.

"He has been a good mentor to the people who were, perhaps, less experienced on those issues," King said, adding that Burnham's energy and expertise will be missed.

King said the planning commission is often a difficult job because some of their decisions and recommendations draw fire from residents.

"When we weather that type of storm on the council it's only because he weathered it first," King said.

"It's unfortunate anytime we lose anyone with that much experience," agreed Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman. "It's very hard to find someone with that much knowledge who's willing to spend their time to help the city."

Burnham was scheduled to be honored by the City Council Tuesday.

Planning Commission clerk Christy McQuillen said there is no process spelled out in the commission's by-laws to deal with an officer resignation. Burnham himself, however, set a precedent in 2000 when he was vice-chairman and took over the running of meetings when the chairman resigned.

Planning commission members are appointed by the mayor and Young said he has not had time to check through his files for an eligible candidate, though he said he thinks there are still some applications of interested parties.

Young also said residents interested in joining the commission can fill out an application at city hall.

Brian Beckley can be reached at bbeckley@courierherald.com.

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