City passes resolution supporting acquisition of Chelan Butte property

by Richard Uhlhorn

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The property outline in red is the property the City is interested in acquiring.

“You are going to end up with exactly what the people in this community don’t want,” said Stan Morse in his comments against the City partnering with the Public Land Trust and the community to purchase approximately 900 acres on Chelan Butte to keep it from being developed.

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Local attorney Stan Morse is opposed to the City acquiring Chelan Butte.

Morse’s argument centered around the fact that once the City brings water, streets and sidewalks to the 40 acres Mayor Cooney says will be set aside for affordable housing, other developers will come in and develop adjacent private property holdings like the Lafferty Property.

“There is no one in this room that doesn’t want to see the Butte remain the way it is,” said Morse. “You will be opening Pandora’s box.”

Despite Morse’s arguments against the City’s interest in purchasing the 900 acres, the City Council unanimously passed a resolution at its October 23 City Council meeting supporting the acquisition of the acreage.

The only real question going forward is how much money to ask the State Legislature to consider giving the City for the acquisition. The Legislative Priority List is asking the State Legislature to set aside $4 million towards the acquisition of the $7 million dollar parcel.

During Council remarks, Erin McCardle stated that the Council has never discussed the $4 million number. “We haven’t had any discussion and I have trouble with that,” she said. “Is $4 million the right number?”

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Councilwoman Erin McCardle wants to have a Council discussion on the amount of funding the City should request from the State Legislature towards the purchase of Butte property.

Mayor Cooney said he hadn’t proofread the document and didn’t realize the $4 million number was still in it. “We will bring it back to the Council (at the next meeting),” said Cooney. “We are buying it to protect it for future generations.”

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Councilman Ray Dobbs is concerned that if the City doesn’t acquire the Butte property, another development like the Lookout could be built.

The hope is that the Public Land Trust will partner with the City. Ray Dobbs said, “If we don’t get it, look at what could happen… another Lookout. Is there a way to preserve that property without buying it?”

Mayor Cooney said, “There is someone kicking the tires on that property right now.”

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Mayor Cooney is concerned that developers are already looking at the Butte’s potential for development.

Tim Hollingsworth, a proponent for purchasing the property said, “We need to move forward and show good faith (to the owner). It (the property) has been kicked around for 20 years.” He says it is important to show the good faith and sell the entire concept to the community.

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Councilman Tim Hollingsworth feels the City needs to move forward on the Butte property to keep it in the hands of the community and undeveloped.

There have been numerous attempts to develop the Butte property beginning with John Walcker and Rick Bowle’s SnoCreek Ski Resort project. After that died, Jim Urness and a group of investors began working on the Daybreak Project that would have been developed into a gated community and golf course. That also failed and an attempt to auction the property also failed.

The Daybreak project was able to annex the property into the City of Chelan which means that anyone who purchases the property outside of the City’s goal would face huge infrastructure costs to bring in water, sewer, streets, curbs and sidewalks to the property.

Keeping it in its current undeveloped condition is in the interest of the City and a community that is overwhelmed with current development within the City limits.

 

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