New planners come on board in Island County

Two new members of the Island County Planning Commission will start digging into land-use policy beginning in March.

Commissioners Angie Homola and John Dean announced their picks for the volunteer board during the regular Monday meeting. The two nominees, an Oak Harbor and a Camano Island resident, were unanimously approved by the board.

Homola chose Oak Harbor resident Mahmoud M. Abdel-Monem to fill the position being vacated by Alan Schell, who’s resignation is effective Feb. 28. Schell announced that he was leaving earlier this year because he no longer has enough time to devote to the important group.

Homola described Abdel-Monem as a “water quality monitoring expert” who is an active WSU Beach Watcher. According to his resume, he created water quality curriculum for the training program, developed a program for field testing water on Whidbey, established the “Clean Green Boating” program and assists with a program to take back unused pharmaceuticals.

Adbel-Monem has a Ph.D. in medicinal chemistry from the University of Minnesota. He has worked in academia and the pharmaceutical industry for more than 40 years. He currently is a consultant for a company in Minnesota that creates mineral products for animal consumption.

Abdel-Monem is the second person Homola has appointed to the planning commission. In January, she chose Oak Harbor resident Rex Porter to fill a vacancy.

Dean picked Camano Island resident William Lippens, an architect, to fill a position vacated by Camano resident Deb Eidsness. In her letter of resignation, she cites uncertainty and frustration with the changes in the planning commission and planning department as the reasons for her decision. Her resignation was effective Feb. 25.

Dean said North Whidbey resident Jim Somers, a retired dentist and former president of WSU Beach Watchers of Island County, also applied for the position.

Dean said the two men were both qualified applicants and “identical” in his mind, but he chose Lippens to maintain a “geographical” balance. With Lippens, there will be two Camano residents on the nine-member commission.

The planning commission is charged with making recommendations on land-use matters to the county commissioners. It consists of three residents from each of the three commissioner districts. The county commissioner from each district gets to recommend the members, though the board has to approve the selection.

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