Volume 2, Number 41 - January 9, 2003
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Sommers drops PDR group
The Sublette County Purchase of Development Rights Working Group held a meeting last Friday to discuss its presentation to the Sublette County Commissioners on Monday.
Since several citizens were also in attendance, the group agreed to listen to brief public statements.
Sue Ziegler said while everyone is concerned about issues like urban sprawl, such issues are more properly addressed through existing mechanisms, like planning and zoning. She said the PDR program using tax revenues serves as "a subsidy to an elite group and I don't like that."
Liz David and Luke Lynch both expressed concerns with the recent PDR survey that was published in the newspapers. David said the way the survey was handled won't produce very scientific results.
John Mortenson warned the group not to put too much weight in a vote of opinions, because its "oftentimes uneducated opinion."
Tucker Smith said, "If I were uninformed," he would have a tendency to be against using taxpayer money for PDRs. He also said the survey was flawed because it was focused on "asking questions of the uninformed."
Paul Rock took objection to the notion that if a person disagreed, that person was "uninformed or ill-informed."
The working group briefly reviewed the survey results. Group member Tom Davenport of the Green River Valley Land Trust concluded some of the more negative views were the result of inadequate press coverage of the economic benefits of a PDR program, but rancher and group member Albert Sommers said the polarity found in the results is a result of philosophical differences of opinion.
Sommers said he feels that he was placed on the working group to represent ranchers and said he doesn't believe there is support in the ranching community for the PDR program.
"I cannot support going forward," Sommers said. Sommers' view was apparently the minority view, since the working group continued in developing a proposal for a pilot program to the county commission.
The group decided at the meeting to not make a recommendation to the commission on whether the county commission should move forward with a pilot program, but decided if the commission wanted to go forward, the group would propose by what means.
The group decided to seek re-appointment to continue the development of a pilot program, with Sommers again in the minority.
Crandall asked Sommers whether, if the commission decided to continue the group, Sommers would continue to serve, to which he responded: "No. I won't continue. I'm done."
Sommers added: "I have very, very strong opinions on this. I don't think I'm willing to bend them at all."
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