City of Blaine contracts with hearing examiner pro tempore


The city of Blaine has hired an alternate hearing examiner to fill in when the appointed examiner recuses from a hearing to avoid a conflict of interest.

Blaine City Council appointed Phil Olbrechts as hearing examiner pro tempore during its November 27 meeting after Blaine hearing examiner Rajeev Majumdar recently removed himself from a hearing. Majumdar declined to comment on the case.

Olbrechts is located in Granite Falls and serves as a hearing examiner in 25 municipalities and as an alternate examiner for four government entities, including Seattle and Snohomish County. Since 1997, Olbrechts has conducted over 2,000 hearings, he wrote in an email to The Northern Light.

Olbrechts has represented neighborhood groups and developers as a land use attorney. He has represented parties at different levels of court, including the Growth Management Hearing Board and appeared as part of a legal team at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The hearing examiner administers impartial hearings, similar to a judge, on land-use and development applications and appeals. The examiner makes recommendations on planned unit developments to city council, and is the final decision-maker for conditional use permits, land use variances and shoreline substantial development permit applications.

Olbrechts’ contract with the city will pay him $180 per hour of work and will last through the end of 2025. 


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