New planning commissioner speedily resigns

Published on Thu, Jul 3, 2008 by Tara Nelson

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New planning commissioner speedily resigns

By Tara Nelson

At press time The Northern Light has learned that Robert Caine, a recently appointed planning commissioner as of the last Blaine City Council meeting has resigned his appointment.

In a message left at the newspaper office, Caine said “I had to resign.” He gave no reason for his resignation.

His appointment had been made last week after lengthy debate by Blaine City Council in which councilors argued whether to re-open the application process in hopes of finding more candidates to better represent all areas of the city.

In their regular meeting June 23, council members voted 7-0 to appoint Caine, a real estate developer who moved to Blaine six months ago to be closer to his business in Vancouver.

Caine would have filled a vacant position on the commission left by Paul Greenough, who left in May when he was appointed to serve on the city council. Greenough now represents Semiahmoo, the city’s third ward.

Council member Charlie Hawkins recalled an incident earlier this year where council members voted to extend an application deadline for planning commission when Blaine resident Dennis Olason was the only applicant.

Although several council members stated they simply wanted better representation from areas such as east Blaine, Hawkins argued the decision was wrong then and would be equally wrong now.
“It doesn’t matter how you slice it, you just didn’t want Dennis to be appointed,” Hawkins said.

Council member Harry Robinson agreed. “I think what we did the last time around was wrong,” he said. “We made the wrong choice for the wrong reason and I don’t know if two wrongs make a right. However, I’m thinking we need to have at least, if not rules, then policy on how we will deal with these things. I think we’re treating the people who apply for these positions just terrible.”

Overstreet, however, said council members should not be forced to vote for a candidate in the event that only one individual applied. “If the council is not comfortable, they should not vote,” he said.

Blaine mayor Bonnie Onyon agreed. “The council could discuss the parameters or lack thereof more and define the boundaries more clearly,” she said. “If we could have gone back, we wouldn’t do it, but we can’t do anything about it now.”

Caine, 58, earned his master of arts degree from Yale, a medical degree in opthamology, a masters in business administration and a real estate degree, according to his application filed with the city. He said he began developing real estate in his former home town of Fredericksburg, Virginia, a town of similar size to Blaine, while he worked as a medical doctor.

He is also currently developing a large building for the U.S. General Services Administration and has served on the board of directors for Ambulatory Healthcare Corporation of America as well as other various positions.

Caine, who has a self-described “pro-growth bias,” said he would like to see Blaine grow in terms of industrial development. He also said Blaine enjoys a beautiful waterfront that could make it a destination for day-trips. “Most small towns in America would kill for this waterfront,” he said.

In a response to a question from council members about stumbling blocks to Blaine’s growth, Caine mentioned excessively long border waits that create a deterrent for Canadian tourists as well as a lack of population density in the city. “How are you going to get critical mass if you don’t have the people?”

Council also voted to appoint Blaine resident Sandy Charles to a vacant position on the Blaine Tourism Advisory Committee.

Charles, a semi-retired regional sales manager for Hewlett Packard, has a master of arts degree in consumer economics from the University of Missouri and a bachelor of arts degree in business education from Stephens College. She is a board member of the Pacific Arts Association and a former member of Soroptimist International of Lake Arrowhead, California.

Charles said she has been very active in the Blaine and Arrowhead communities and also worked with the Lake Arrowhead Chamber of Commerce.

When asked by councilors what she envisioned for Blaine, Charles said she would like to see concerts at Marine Park, festivals at Peace Arch Park and possible seafood festivals such as those that brought in as many as 60,000 visitors to her former home town.

She also said she would like to see the city take advantage of the assets it already has such as the waterfront, harbor, boat launching facilities and beaches. “It’s also a big, big plus being so close to Canada,” she said.

She was one of two applicants – the other, Elle Tracy, a screenwriter from New York City, advocated working with the Audobon Society to emphasize Semiahmoo as a winter birding destination.