Eatonville Mayor Mike Schaub is looking for a new police chief after requesting former Chief Brian Witt be moved within the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department.

The change of leadership was announced at the Monday, Feb. 25, Town Council meeting.

 “We’re just looking for a change in leadership direction,” Schaub said when asked the reason for Witt’s departure.

In the meantime, the sheriff’s department has assigned Deputy Frank Clark to serve as interim police chief while a permanent replacement is sought.

There is also an open police officer position. Ten candidates are under consideration for the position and a decision on the finalist is expected soon.

Public voices frustration at marijuana dispensary decision

During the meeting, members of the public expressed displeasure at councilmembers for voting contrary to the results of last November’s citizens advisory vote regarding retail marijuana stores within town limits.

“A vote is a vote, to me,” said resident Judy Scalf. “I just don’t understand. So all I want to know is how it happens.”

Councilmember Bob Walter fielded the question, defending his and fellow councilmembers’ actions.

“I see an advisory vote as a gauge of the general view of the community,” he said, adding, “I have to look at the views of all of the community, and it was pretty evenly split.”

He further noted that he was against the advisory vote in the first place, calling it “an unnecessary expense” – an opinion that Councilmember Bill Dunn concurred with.

In other news

Resolution 2019-H, regarding changes to Eatonville’s operational service agreement with South Pierce Fire and Rescue, passed unanimously although not without some extended discussion.

Proposed revisions requested by the firefighter’s union would do away with volunteer firefighters working alongside paid professionals provoked opposition from Dunn over concerns as to its reasoning and cost impact.

“It feels like [the Fire Department] is asking the town to foot the bill for fixing something that wasn’t broken,” Dunn said.

LeMay Inc., which handles garbage collection and recycling services for Eatonville, advised town staff that the cost of recycling service will soon be increased by roughly $2 per household. The stated reason for the change is recent upheavals in the global recycling market, most notably China’s decision to stop collecting many types of plastic and other mixed waste through its new National Sword policy.

The Planning Department is considering changing the manner in which land use cases are handled by switching to the use of a hearing examiner as opposed to the current “quasi-judicial” Board of Adjustment. Schaub explained how this would put the town in a better position if any land use decisions were to be challenged in court. Additional costs for using a hearing examiner would be borne by permit applicants as part of the fee.

Ordinance 2019-2 regarding off-street parking, loading requirements and drive-throughs in the downtown commercial district likewise passed with unanimous “yay” votes by the council. Previously, a clerical error had shown it as Ordinance 2018-2, which Mayor Schaub acknowledged was an easy error to make, akin to writing “2018” on checks in the early months of the new year.  He noted also that the error had managed to escape the attention of every single council member, as well as himself.

“It went through a lot of eyes to not be able to see that date,” he remarked with a chuckle.

There was a discussion by councilmembers of placing new timer locks on bathrooms within town parks in order to make them more flexible in responding to holidays, daylight savings changes, and special events.

There was also discussion of installing a new security camera at the Eatonville Visitor Center to make it compatible with those used elsewhere throughout town

The next town council meeting is scheduled for Monday, March 11.