MCMAC Tries to Find Its Purpose and Authority

  • MAC members (l-r) Stacey Havener, Steve Newman and Anne Weber discuss the drafting of a motion to write a letter to Supervisor Ray Watson informing him of the community’s concerns over Frazier Park Estates. Watson was among those looking on.

    MAC members (l-r) Stacey Havener, Steve Newman and Anne Weber discuss the drafting of a motion to write a letter to Supervisor Ray Watson informing him of the community’s concerns over Frazier Park Estates. Watson was among those looking on.

By Gary Meyer

The second meeting of the Mountain Communities Municipal Advisory Council (MCMAC or MAC), on Tuesday, March 16, was at times a struggle for council members to understand their mission as stipulated by Supervisor Ray Watson through the group’s bylaws and handpicked representatives.

While council member Linda MacKay continued her view from last month that the MAC should seek to learn about local issues in order to make recommendations to Supervisor Watson, member Rob Peterson disagreed saying they can’t be experts in all matters or be expected to give the supervisor meaningful guidance. Member Stacey Havener agreed with Peterson.

MacKay also felt that it would be appropriate for the MAC to occasionally communicate with neighboring counties about matters of concern to Mountain Communities residents.

Watson spoke to clarify his view of the council’s responsibilities: “It’s not the place of the council to write letters to other government entities. I hope you’ll look at yourselves as a conduit from the community to me,” he said, explaining that problems could arise if neighboring governments were to become confused by appearances that a municipal advisory council was officially representing the views of Kern County, through signed letters.

Kern County Planning Department Division Chief Lorelei Oviatt observed that the MAC in Rosamond (where she lives) will often gather input from residents about an issue, then go to the planning department and say, “We’re hearing from our community members these concerns about this particular issue.” She said the Rosamond MAC’s comments often stop short of being a recommendation, but are valuable to her as a planner. Oviatt said developers will sometimes come to planning and ask who they can talk to in a community, and planning has begun responding by suggesting to Rosamond developers, “Well, you can talk to the Chamber of Commerce and you can talk to the Municipal Advisory Council. You might want to get feedback about your project from them before you approach the planning department,” Oviatt said.

MacKay made a motion to reconsider last month’s action of “No Recommedation” on the Frazier Park Estates (FPE) project and Havener seconded, launching the council into 30 minutes of discussion ranging from a rehash on the merits of the project and some clarifications from both Planning Division Chief Oviatt and the developer’s representative Derril Whitten, to further debate about whether the council should attempt to make actual recommendations.

After comments from audience members Katherine King and Eric Anderson supporting a smaller FPE project, MacKay pointed out that the planning department has “ample evidence of the community’s concerns over Frazier Park Estates on file” for the MAC to consider.

Oviatt confirmed this saying there are over 500 such statements from the community.

MacKay pointed out that Supervisor Watson had earlier said Kern County’s planners are the experts and she therefore thought that the council should consider making a recommendation to Supervisor Watson to accept the planning department’s recommendation for a smaller project.

Rob Peterson, who is an employee of Tejon Ranch Company, disagreed saying he thought the motion should be to “make no recommendation” on Frazier Park Estates.

Watson interjected again, saying he feels that a simple letter from the MAC stating that a majority of the community input received indicates concerns about water and other issues, would suffice.

All council members agreed that this would be acceptable and, after discussing and scribbling some notes, voted unanimously to draft and send a letter to Supervisor Watson conveying the council’s awareness of community concerns.

Other actions taken include opening a post office box and a committee to research options for creating a website with email accounts. A motion to approve and submit the bylaws as amended to the Board of Supervisors for approval was passed four to one, with MacKay voting no. MacKay, who had originally made the motion to amend the bylaws, decided she wanted the amended bylaws to include a provision for elections of council members to begin after the first term. This earlier, separate motion did not receive a second.

Please answer the questions in this survey written by members of the MCMAC to inform the council of your community concerns. Return it according to instructions given. You can download the survey form at from the Community FYI in the right column.

This is part of the March 26, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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