Hearing Examiner Procedures
The Hearing Examiner is appointed by the Douglas County Board of Commissioners to provide a separation of the land use regulatory system from the land use planning function of the County; to ensure and expand the principles of fairness and due process in public hearings; and to provide an efficient and effective regulatory system integrating the public hearing and decision making processes.
The Hearing Examiner conducts public hearings on permit applications such as those for conditional use permits, variances, major subdivisions, site plan developments, and planned residential developments. These types of applications are classified as "quasi-judicial" by the Douglas County Code and differentiated from "legislative" matters which are larger in geographic scope and involve the creation, implementation or amendment of policy or law such as a comprehensive plan or zoning ordinance. The Douglas County Hearing Examiner, in conducting permit review, does not hear "legislative" matters. These are the responsibilities of the Douglas County Regional Planning Commission and the Board of Commissioners. The Hearing Examiner review of a permit application cannot re-examine alternatives, objections or appeals of established comprehensive plans, policies or land use ordinances.
List of Procedures
Although the public hearing process is governed by certain rules, the Hearing Examiner strives to conduct hearings in a relaxed and informal manner. The procedure used by the Hearing Examiner during the public hearing is as follows:
- Transportation and Land Services presents a staff report including any recommendations.
- The applicant/proponent of the proposal is given an opportunity to speak.
- Those in the audience in favor of the proposal may enter testimony.
- Those in the audience opposed to the proposal may enter testimony.
- The Hearing Examiner may then close the public hearing, establish a date that the public record will close for the purpose of allowing the submission of additional written testimony, or continue the public hearing to another date.
Request from Examiner
The Hearing Examiner may request clarification of the issues presented or may ask questions at any time during the hearing. Cross-examination of persons entering testimony, applicants, staff or the Hearing Examiner by any other party is not permitted.
The Hearing Examiner may employ alternative hearing formats deemed in the judgment of the Hearing Examiner as most appropriate to the case under consideration. Alternative formats may include requesting persons who wish to enter testimony to indicate in advance their desire to speak, establishing time limits to oral presentations, and requesting written clarification or amplification of issues presented.
Rules for Testifying
Please follow these simple rules if you will be testifying during the public hearing:
- Come to the speaker's podium/microphone and state your name and address.
- Keep your comments as brief as possible.
- Keep your comments relevant to the proposal and the issues.
- Try not to duplicate information that has already been presented.
Public Hearing on Record
The public hearing is recorded on tape. Please state your name each time you address the Hearing Examiner or are requested to respond to a question from the Hearing Examiner. You are also requested to sign the attendance roster at the entry door. This assists in preparing the record of the hearing.
The Hearing Examiner also encourages the submission of written testimony and information. These materials are reviewed prior to a decision. All written and graphic material presented at the hearing must be retained as a part of the permanent record. Copies of items such as photographs, reports, etc. should be made prior to submission to the Hearing Examiner, as they may not be returned.
Rules for Guests
Persons attending public hearings are also expected to conduct themselves with decorum to assure fairness and equity in the proceedings. Participants must:
- Step to the podium/microphone each time you wish to be recognized by the Hearing Examiner to offer a comment, or to ask or answer a question, and state your name for the record.
- Address all testimony, comments and questions to the Hearing Examiner and not the other participants, the applicant or the staff. The Hearing Examiner will determine the appropriateness of all questions, and when and where to direct them.
- Allow others in attendance an opportunity to present their testimony. Do not interrupt the proceedings with applause, heckling, outbursts or other disruptive behavior.
- Address the issues and application that are before the Hearing Examiner. These proceedings are not the forum to discuss the appropriateness of particular land use policies or regulations, or alternatives.
- Turn off all audible communications devices such as pagers and cellular telephones.
Hearing Examiner Decisions
Decisions of the Hearing Examiner are made within ten working days of the close of the public record. Decisions are mailed to the applicant and others who submit a written request for notification prior to the public hearing. You may indicate on the attendance roster whether you wish to receive a copy of the decision.
Request for Reconsideration
Any aggrieved party or agency of record may request a reconsideration of a Hearing Examiner decision in accordance with Douglas County Code (DCC) 2.13.150. Except for action on permits required by the Shoreline Management Act, decisions of the Hearing Examiner are final and conclusive unless appealed to the Douglas County Superior Court in accordance with DCC Chapter 14.12 and Chapter 36.70C RCW. Persons considering appeals should contact an attorney for legal advice.
Adopted this 27th day of February 2001