April 30, 2009 · Updated 3:55 PM
By Dennis Box, The Courier-Herald
The Jan. 27 Bonney Lake City Council meeting lasted longer than than four hours and offered considerable fireworks by the end of the night. The final script ran from dedications to denunciations with plenty of debate in between.
The night was kicked off when Chief Petty Officer Steve Willadson of the United States Navy Seabees presented a freedom flag to Mayor Bob Young and the city of Bonney Lake.
Willadson served five months during the Iraq war and flew the flag at Camp 93 on the Kuwait-Iraq border.
The open microphone portion of the evening was punctuated by accusations.
Dan Decker accused Young of using Public Works employees to clean up a fallen tree on his property and Jim Shortt accused Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman of living outside his ward and asked the City Council to investigate.
Swatman pointed out Shortt had run against him in the last Ward 4 election. He also noted he filed a complaint against Shortt with the Public Disclosure Commission.
Since losing an at-large election to Mark Hamilton on Nov. 4 Swatman has been dogged by allegations he is living outside his ward.
He states he owns two residences, a mobile home in Ward 4 and a home outside the ward.
"The law is clear in Bonney Lake," Swatman said. "You have to reside in your ward. That's obvious. After losing a citywide election I had a choice to make. I have a job to do and a lot of people called and asked me to stay. I consulted some legal people and they told me what I had to do to maintain residence in the ward. I spend the majority of my time there. I'm doing what I have to do to meet legal residency. Mr. Shortt has an ax to grind."
At the end of the night a committee was formed to investigate the accusation. Committee members are Councilmembers Phil DeLeo, Neil Johnson and Dave King.
The bulk of the night was taken up with an extended debate on a comprehensive plan amendment involving the 300-foot movement of transition lines on the zoning map.
It was eventually adopted for commercial zoning on a 5-2 vote with Councilmembers Dave King and Cheryle Noble voting no.
Both King and Noble stated they are neither anti-business nor anti-growth, but were concerned with the lack of time for proper review and consideration.
"I want smart growth," Noble said. "I know Bonney Lake is going to change, but let's not do it in a disorganized fashion. We live in a beautiful community. Let's not keep rubber stamping everything and then see where we end up."
Johnson feels this year could be a watershed year for the Council in terms of planning the cities growth.
"This is going to be a critical year in my eyes," Johnson said. "We need to set down our vision as to what Bonney Lake should look like in the future. I'm going to put my vision on paper and offer it to the City Council members at the retreat (Feb. 6-7). We need to act now. We have to get ahead of the curve. We can't continue to chase down the wagon."
Dennis Box can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org