Oversight coalition a help or hindrance?

Bing Hojlo / Guest CommentaryJanuary 23, 2013 

In the Jan. 13 issue of the Sierra Star, Madera Planning Director Norman Allinder claimed the county "...still suffers from the effect of litigious groups that utilize environmental laws to advance their own agenda, halting some projects and interfering with job creation."

The Madera Oversight Coalition is the only mountain organization comprised of citizen taxpayers who have successfully litigated against the county's questionable development decisions on a number of occasions.

I find it puzzling why any county planning director would object to a citizen's group pointing out obviously bad decisions which violate the county's own General Plan or existing state law. Before reverting to litigation, the Madera Oversight Coalition appears at the county's public hearings. This allows the county an opportunity to adjust their decisions to coincide with their own General Plan, state law or to question mitigating issues of significant impact.

Our organization resents having to financially support repeatedly bad development decisions affecting our community's water, septics and roads.

Our litigations were successful because the courts generally supported the coalition's assertions.

The shear amount of these questionable decisions by Madera County points to a pattern of bad practice. It appears more of a case of the county and Mr. Allinder having an "agenda" of development at any cost -- even if it adversely affects our water, traffic, septic and air.

Mr. Allinder is correct on one point. The Madera Oversight Coalition does have an Agenda (mission statement) to encourage responsible growth through adherence to California land use law, the Madera County General Plan and promote the health, safety and welfare of the public within Madera County.

When Madera County starts making legal, conscientious development decisions, the coalition will not be needed. The county would fare better to work with the coalition instead of dismissing them as an inconsequential "environmental" group.

-- Bing Hojlo is a retired Oakland police officer, now living in Coarsegold and is an advisor to the Madera Oversight Coalition.

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