Response to Chris Bowers’ letter in Feb. 21 Sounder

Tuesday, February 28 2017

Context, as the saying goes, is everything. Taken out of context, my comments, as quoted by Chris Bowers in last week’s Sounder, no longer reflect the original intent of my public statements. I’d like to set the record straight.

This first quote used in the letter is that “Trustees depend on planners to make decisions.” The clear implication of the quote as presented by the writer was that as Trustees we do nothing more than rubber stamp their advice. In fact, the comments that Chris Bowers is referring to were made when I was discussing the tone of the community conversation around Potlatch which has, at times, been quite derogatory towards both staff and Trustees. At an LTC meeting, I took a moment to commend the professionalism and expertise of the Islands Trust staff. The planners handling the Potlatch application have attained master’s degrees in land use planning and have many years of experience in relevant fields. As Trustees, we are fortunate to be supported by such dedicated individuals who have a wealth of knowledge and training at their fingertips. Trustees in general come from all walks of life. When making planning decisions, it seems wise indeed to carefully consider the advice of professional planners, as well as community input and our interpretation of the OCP.

I am further quoted as saying that opposition to the Potlatch proposal is about “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.” The context for this quote was a discussion of the OCP as a visionary document. I stated that I believe that the visions and goals of the OCP are at least as important as the enabling policies which are designed to achieve them. When I used the phrase “dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s,” it was in relationship to focusing on technicalities to the exclusion of consideration of the application as a whole. Of course the technicalities, as I said at the time, are important, but so is the larger picture. My concern was that in a protracted discussion of technicalities (or, as I believe I phrased it, the order of dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s), there was a danger that sight of the larger picture could be lost. 

~ Heather O’Sullivan