Islands Trust responsible for land use decisions
To the Editor:
Bruce Howlett has reminded us of the undemocratic character of the Islands Trust (December 28). The characteristics he discusses continue to apply to Bowen.
But the Trust has another repugnant characteristic that bears mention, although it’s one that Bowen did finally escape thanks to the 1999 referendum that made it a municipality. This feature is the composition of the local trust committees that, on all islands other than Bowen, are responsible for the key function of making land-use decisions. These local trust committees, one per island, are each composed of three members: two locally elected, and one appointed from another island by the chair of the Trust Council.
Thus, in the case of a disagreement between the two locally-elected members, it is the appointed alien member who in effect makes the land-use decision - regardless of how important and far-reaching it is. And further, being appointed, he/she can do so unburdened by tiresome concerns about the preferences of the voters affected by that decision.
This is not necessarily a criticism of the people who have served as appointed members of local trust committees. But it is a criticism of both those who initially designed this sadly undemocratic feature of local government and those who over the years have tolerated or, worse, even joyously embraced it.