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Planning Commission Faces Irrational Agenda

The City Manager, in just over one month, has launched a focused assault on the long formulated and widely discussed community vision for the development of the Fort Bragg mill site.

At the last city council meeting, the city received the stunning revelation that a contract had already been signed, and that money was in escrow for a project that the city manager was supporting with massive intervention but which remained secret from the wider public. Not even the name of the project developer was disclosed.

To push through this mystery development, the city manager and her team at city hall were going to have to dump decades of community input, ditch the plan so far and without further bothersome inconvenience from the pesky public define new parameters and details of the mill site development silently and quickly.

The expected vote at the March 13th City Council meeting was unexpectedly forestalled when more information leaked out of the development director than City Hall could spontaneously spin. A visibly shaken City Council, and a suddenly circumspect City Manager backed up for a quick reappraisal, but the Fort Bragg Planning Commission had already been set up for the next meeting and handed their marching orders.

It had been ordained by the City Manager that at the Wednesday March 22 Planning Commission meeting, the wholesale rewriting of the mill site strategy would be on their table. The future of the mill site was to be reviewed and duly rubber stamped by the Planning Commission.

The assumption was that by Wednesday night's Planning Commission meeting the City Council would have already voted.

But they didn't.

Actually, the City Council had been only slightly less blindsided than the Planning Commission was about to be. City Manager Linda Ruffing had quietly and efficiently blasted public process and to all appearances had every duck meticulously lined up. The unexpected failure last Monday to railroad the council which had been going so well and now looks iffy, leaves the Planning Commission with a full plate and no mandate to proceed.

How is the new Planning Commission going to handle this?

Will the Commission simply vote for a gutting of community protections and kill the community discussion ahead of City Council authorization simply because the City Manager put it on their agenda? Or will they notice that the far-ranging destruction of public process and the imposition of an industrial park by a City Manager working diligently for unnamed special interests has, by a fluke, not yet been authorized to proceed by the City Council?

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