Bainbridge Island Hearing Examiner Ted Hunter asked the large crowd gathered for Thursday’s public hearing on the Winslow Hotel to stick to the facts of the case.
The fate of the controversial 87-room hotel will be decided by the city’s hearing examiner.
The city hearing examiner for Bainbridge Island is Sound Law Center, a Seattle-based firm which specializes in resolving land-use disputes.
Leading Thursday’s hearing is Hunter.
Hunter has a law degree from the University of Washington and was trained in mediation techniques at Willamette and Harvard universities. He has trial experience in court in land-use matters for developers and environmental groups at all levels of the state and federal courts, according to a biography on Sound Law Center’s website.
Hunter also served as legal counsel to the Washington State Legislature on energy and environmental matters, according to the firm’s website.
He has also served as the chief negotiator for the Legislature in matters involving land-use proposals at the U.S. Hanford Nuclear Reservation, and is past chairman of the Dispute Resolution Section of the Washington State Bar and is a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution. He is also a member of the American Planning Association and the Washington and American Bar Associations.
Hunter also serves as a land-use hearing examiner and mediator for more than 20 cities in Washington, according to the Sound Law Center’s website.
Bainbridge Island hired Sound Law Center in January 2018 and extended the contract late last year.
At the start of Thursday’s hearing on the Winslow Hotel, Hunter asked for civility; no applause or booing.
“Civility in government is important right now,” he said.
The crowd laughed.
Hunter set out his expectations for comment at the start of the hearing, and cautioned against repetitive testimony. He did note that he had received 250 comments on the proposal, and noted that a show of hands from people against the project, if he asked, would reflect that.
“It’s not a popularity contest,” he said.
“But that’s not how we make decisions,” Hunter added.
That could lead to a perception of an unfair hearing, and that would require a new hearing, he explained.
He also asked people to keep their comments short, under three minutes, but noted he would not use a time clock.
“You can say what needs to be said in a few minutes,” Hunter said.
The proposal will be weighted on whether established criteria set by the city would be met, or not, by the plans for the project.
“Bring forward the facts,” he said, and not comments of simply opposition.