As the liaison between the Jackson County Planning Commission and the Jackson County Committee for Citizen Involvement, and a former vice chairwoman of the CCI, I would like to address the goals and purpose of the committee. I believe that clarification must be made to the citizens of Jackson County due to possible misconceptions generated from a Mail Tribune article published on March 4.
In order to understand the importance of citizen involvement, it is necessary to understand the history. Since 1973, Goal 1 of Oregon's Statewide Planning Program is citizen involvement. "Every city and county has a Committee for Citizen Involvement (CCI) to monitor and encourage active citizen participation." According to the State of Oregon, the citizen is the highest priority. In Oregon land-use planning, the voice of the citizen is vital. If you find Oregon land-use planning easy to understand and user friendly, no need to read any further.
On July 5, 2006, the Jackson County Board of Commissioners created the Committee for Citizen Involvement. The initial seven-member committee was appointed in January 2007, with the first meeting held in May 2007. Its members officially adopted a work program in June 2008 and the committee's bylaws were ratified and adopted by the commissioners on Aug. 6, 2008.
The goals of the committee are simple. The committee shall:
- Provide training and orientation for all types of land-use hearings so that testimony by citizens and community groups is clear, factual and effective.
- Sponsor projects to inform county residents of the importance of land-use planning in their lives and inspire their commitment to sustained involvement.
- Educate citizens on how to acquire agendas and other pertinent information regarding actions by county land-use decision bodies.
- Establish a variety of techniques to encourage and maintain communication between citizens and local officials.
- Enable the formation of new ad hoc work groups, steering committees or citizen advisory committees to provide input on specific issues and projects.
On March 19, 2009, the committee made its first ad hoc citizen recommendation to the Planning Commission — the Energy Working Group. The input from the working group will be essential in rewriting the out-of-date Jackson County Energy Element of the Comprehensive Plan. By becoming involved, you can find out how these types of rewrites and changes may affect you. Do you know and understand your property rights?
The March 4 article alluded to the misconception that the committee has had difficulty "... finding purpose, recruits or accomplishing anything." I beg to differ. Measured accomplishments can occur only with the voice of the people. Citizen involvement is a personal commitment and sacrifice, and the citizen is the "political action committee" with the power to influence the making of government public policy. The citizen is a legitimate voice of common sense in government.
So, if you want to provide your citizen voice of reason, Jackson County would like to hear from you. To find out more, log on to www.jacksoncounty.org (click on Commissions and Committees), or call Jackson County Planning at 774-6900.
Tani Wouters is a member of the Jackson County Planning Commission.