Monroe fires hearing examiner
MONROE - The city found its latest foe last week and hearing examiner John Galt will soon be shown the door.
Galt recently ruled the city’s phased environmental study concerning Heritage Baptist Fellowship’s rezone request was “inadequate as a matter of law” and “profoundly lacking in detailed environmental analysis.”
At the Aug. 21 City Council meeting, city staff and the council discussed Galt’s recent written request asking for a compensation adjustment. The city’s response was to fire him.
On Aug. 15, just a month after ruling against the city, Galt asked the city to increase his hourly billing rate from $110 to $125, which he said would still be “among the lowest of any hearing examiner officers in the region.” Galt has been the contracted hearing examiner for Monroe since 2003.
Another controversial environmental study soon will be completed by public works director Brad Feilberg, who is reviewing the possible impacts of a proposed wakeboard park on Lake Tye, which residents say is a sensitive natural habitat for many species including the bald eagle.
Feilberg also wrote the city’s flawed Heritage Baptist study.
Should the wakeboard park study be appealed, it is unknown if Galt would hear the appeal or another hearing examiner appointed by Mayor Robert Zimmerman.
The council voted 6-0 last week in favor of sending Galt a termination letter. Councilwoman Patsy Cudaback, who voted against Heritage’s rezone, was absent during the vote placed on the agenda the day before the council meeting.
“I’m absolutely not surprised. Anyone who has opposed this (rezone) on any level has been fired or retaliated against. This is just one more example of corruption being alive and well in Monroe City Hall,” said Mitch Ruth, who is a former Monroe council member.
Galt didn’t return phone calls from the Tribune.
Galt’s July 24 decision was the latest setback in the city’s bid to push through the church’s controversial land-use change and rezone request.
The city has been going out of its way to push this rezone through, which in the past its own planning department, planning commission and City Council rejected because of the significant environmental and traffic constraints.
Lowell Anderson, who successfully appealed the city’s environmental study, has asked the City Council to rescind its vote to approve the rezone because the vote was based on a flawed environmental study. The council has yet to address Anderson’s request.
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