GPU back on agenda; Bass picks new 4th District commissioner

Joining the Humboldt County Planning Commission today in its ongoing review of the General Plan will be its newest member: Eureka construction company owner Kevin McKenny, appointed by 4th District Supervisor Virginia Bass.

"He brings a lot to the table, and not just the view of a contractor," Bass said of her choice to fill the commission's vacant 4th District seat. "I feel overall he has the ability to look at the larger picture on several different perspectives."

Bass said McKenny has served 26 years on the Humboldt Community Services District, three terms on Humboldt County's Local Agency Formation Committee, and has sat on several boards for Humboldt County and the city of Eureka.

McKenny is expected to be sworn in today in time for the fourth of nine special meetings the commission is dedicating to the General Plan's Conservation and Open Space Element.

During the meeting, the commission will further review the Open Space and Biological Resources sections of the element. At their Jan. 13 General Plan Update hearing, the Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 -- with 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace and 2nd District Supervisor Estelle Fennell dissenting -- to send the entire element back to the commission for review. The board based their decision on a Jan. 9 letter the commission sent to the board urging the board to send back the element if it required significant changes from those approved by the commission in 2011. Lovelace said that the board never reviewed the section in its entirety before sending it back.

"The argument for sending it back doesn't apply to this section," Lovelace said. "For me, it raises the question of why we decided to send it back in the first place."

After spending the majority of its first meeting on Jan. 28 discussing what the board intended in its decision, the commission asked that the board clarify what sections it wanted reviewed at its Feb. 4 meeting. In response, the board voted 3-2 -- with Lovelace and Fennell dissenting -- for the commission to use a short list of sections previously used by the board during its review of the element and allowed them to add whatever sections they saw fit. County Planning and Building Department Director Kevin Hamblin was present at the meeting and said that he was not sure whether the commission will follow the recommendation.

"I passed that recommendation on to the commission and as of yet, its still kind of unclear what they're going to use," Hamblin said. "They're working at their own pace on this element that was assigned to them."

If you go:

What: Planning Commission special meeting

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Supervisors' chamber, first floor, Humboldt County Courthouse, 825 Fifth St., Eureka

The full agenda can be viewed online at http://co.humboldt.ca.us/gpu

Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504 or whouston@times-standard.com. Follow him on Twitter @Will_S_Houston.

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