by Richard Uhlhorn
On Tuesday evening, May 31, the Manson Community Council hosted a community forum in Manson with an estimated 150 concerned and interested residents of the Lake Chelan Valley attending.
The main topics of the evening was the proposed 66 Sundance Estates residential housing project just east of the intersection to the casino and the increasing traffic issues on SR150 between Chelan and Manson.
The Sundance Estates developer applied for 77 lots on 9.6 acres and Chelan County is currently reviewing all of the required criteria.
One of the big issues brought up by Dr. Brian Patterson, a retired environmental consultant and Manson resident was the SEPA report regarding the legacy orchard land this development would build on. The land is considered contaminated with lead/arsenic and Patterson wondered what the County was doing with that information.
Deanna Walters, Chelan County’s interim community development director, stated that the County was looking at the soil samples and will make a decision on whether to require a full Environmental Impact Study based on those soil samples. “I don’t want anyone to assume this will be a DNS (Determination of Non Significance). It is still under review.” The Department of Ecology (DOE) is reviewing the soil samples.
In addition, Walters told the attendees that they can comment on the project all the way through the process until the County Hearings Examiner closes the public comment period.
Asked about a public hearing, Walters said that the County would notifiy those who have commented and left their email address two weeks before a public hearing. “We are a ways away from a hearing,” she said.
The county has received comments from the Fire Marshall and Fire District who also have concerns that need to be addressed. The Lake Chelan Reclamation District commented that they do have the capacity to provide sewer and water to the project.
Walters also answered a question regarding the potential of Short Term Rentals on the project and replied that the County has an STR Code with underlying conditions that must be met. “If they are within the Manson Urban Growth Area, they could apply for it, but we are a long way away from that. The STR Code is another layer on top of everything.”
She also stated that the density would require that the developer would have to sprinkle the houses. “That is very expensive,” she said. “Up to $25,000 per house.”
One of the issues raised about the increased development in the Manson area is added traffic to SR150 which is the only direct route into and out of Manson.
Walters remarked that it wasn’t only residential developments that are affecting traffic on the Manson/Chelan Highway, but that wineries also add to that issue. “We’ve got a tourism issue here,” she said. “It’s not just development that is creating traffic issues.”
She added that wineries under 1,500 sq. ft. did not required a permit. In a message, she wrote, “I pointed that out last night as a reality check for those that want no development. The wineries may require a business license through the state, but the county does not require one. It still requires a building permit, but not land use permit and that is typically where the impacts are analyzed.”
Traffic issues were also discussed and one complaint is that traffic surveys have typically been accomplished during February or January when traffic issues are low. The County Engineer, Brad Scott, remarked that the County had only received the traffic survey two weeks ago.
the DOT representative, Dave Bierschbach, stated that the DOT is trying to get a better handle on seasonal traffic variations after one resident stated that during the summer months, the Manson highway was like July 4th traffic everyday.
Bierschbach said that the DOT would be conducting traffic counts at a number of intersections in Manson. “We will be doing multiple collection counts at major points,” he promised.
Walters encouraged everyone who had concerns to comment by email so it enters into the record.
In a follow-up call to Kari Sorenson, chair of the Manson Community Council, she said the Council is coming up with a series of follow-up questions for the County including issues with some of the wineries and other businesses that exist in Manson.
The Community Council meetings are held on the third Tuesday of each month at the Manson Park’s office beginning at 6 p.m. “We will share any new information that we have received by then,” said Sorenson.