Local governments in Washington state have the option of hiring or contracting with a hearing examiner to conduct required quasi-judicial hearings, usually in place of local bodies such as the planning commission, the board of adjustment, the board of county commissioners, or the city council. A hearing examiner is an appointive officer who acts in a manner similar to a judge and typically is an attorney. The basic purpose of having a hearing examiner conduct these hearings is to have a professionally trained individual make objective quasi-judicial decisions that are supported by an adequate record and that are free from political influences. Using a hearing examiner system allows local legislative and advisory bodies that might otherwise conduct these hearings to better concentrate on policymaking, and it can reduce local government liability exposure. The City of Moses Lake utilizes the hearing examiner system for certain land use decisions, such as formal subdivisions, variances, and conditional use permits as well as appeals and various other decisions.
The purpose of a public hearing is for interested people to provide the Hearing Examiner with information and testimony on the subject for which the hearing was convened. Notification of the hearing is published in the Columbia Basin Herald, as well as being posted at the project site and at certain official public notice locations. The public hearing is normally an official "on-the-record" hearing which allows the Hearing Examiner to obtain data that will be considered in his/her deliberations following the close of the hearing. The Hearing Examiner may act as either the decision maker on a project application or appeal, or act in an advisory role to the City Council, depending on the particular issue being considered.
After the meeting, the Hearing Examiner reviews all pertinent data, letters, and testimony from the hearing and issues a written decision. The decision is mailed to all parties of record, which includes anyone who has submitted written comments during the comment period or who testifies during the public hearing.
How to Participate in a Public Hearing
Hearings are typically held on the fourth Thursday of each month at 10 a.m. The meetings are currently being held via telephone and internet due to COVID-19 meeting restrictions.
Meeting dates are subject to change. You are welcome to call Community Development at 509-764-3745 or check the meeting calendar.
All hearings are open for the public to attend; however, comment at some hearings is limited to only parties of record. You may contact the Planning Division prior to the hearing if you have any questions on whether or not you will be able to participate in the hearing. For projects that are open to public comment, you may submit written comments prior to the hearing if you are unable to attend the hearing or if you do not wish to provide verbal comments during the hearing. Please contact the Planning Division for deadlines for written comment related to the proposal you are interested in.
If you wish to provide verbal comments during a hearing that is open for public comment, please write your contact information (name and mailing address) on the sign-in sheet applicable to the project you wish to comment on. The reason your mailing address is necessary is because all those who provide verbal comment during a public hearing will become parties of record to the decision, and a copy of the decision will be mailed to you. All comments made during the hearing must be made at the podium. When the Hearing Examiner opens the public comment portion of the hearing, proceed to the podium and clearly speak into the microphone so that your comments become part of the taped record. In order for all participants to have an opportunity to speak, the Hearing Examiner may limit the amount of time permitted each speaker. The public hearing may be continued to another date to take additional testimony if the existing available time is not sufficient.
Complex information, including such items as maps, photographs, charts, or detailed or lengthy written testimony, should be put in writing with copies provided to the Hearing Examiner for insertion into the record.
Hearing Examiner Information
The Hearing Examiner is scheduled to meet on the fourth Thursday of each month at 10 a.m. via the online Zoom meeting platform. The meeting can also be accessed by calling in. Meetings are subject to change. Please check the meeting calendar.
Andrew L. Kottkamp