Storm damage raises ire of Chelan Hills residents

by Richard Uhlhorn

The July 3 torrential rain storm was a major topic during Citizen’s Comments at Chelan’s City Council meeting on Tuesday, July 12.

Some are calling the torrential downpour a 100 year storm which caused damage throughout the valley forcing Chelan Public Works into overtime to correct some of the City’s issues. However, out in Chelan Hills, flooding created major issues for some residents.

Charles Cronenweth ended up with a flooded basement and hired a stormwater consultant to come in an investigate the City and his private property damage.

Charles Cronenweth – 115 Riveria Pl., told the Council that the June 3 storm flooded his downstairs with six inches of water and then again during the July 3 storm, another nine inches of water filled his garage. Cronenweth said he hired a stormwater consultant to investigate. The consultant’s report recommended the City trench the north side of Rivera Pl. and construct a culvert with another ditch at the other end of the culvert to help divert stormwater in case of another major rain event.

He also hired a contractor to work on his driveway and install a French drain in hopes of alleviating is problems. “The volume of water was so great that it overwhelmed the system,” said Cronenweth. “I don’t know when it is going to rain again. I’m asking the City for help.” 

Mayor Goedde remarked that Cronenweth was not the only resident to suffer water damage. “We need to figure out what to do and I’m sorry about your flooding.”

Paul Rogers told the Council that the City needs to do more work on stormwater issues in Chelan Hllls.

Next up was Chelan Hills resident Paul Rodgers – 303 Eldorado Way, who said, “It is pretty apparent there is a need for further (City) action.” Rodgers told the Council that 3/4s of the land on Eldorado is privately held and that impermeable concrete and asphalt driveways and streets contributed to the flooding. “There was significant mud and debris runoff across 150 into the lake,” he said. Rodgers said he was looking forward to the City’s response to the issue.

Lori Billard claimed that the two recent storms have damaged her property to a tune of $200,000. She wanted to know what the City was going to do about it.

Lori Billard, another Chelan Hills resident was angry and stated she had $200,000 worth of damage and said, “It is your responsibility. Boyd Road is eroding and the guard rails are hanging.. There has to be something done and I want to know what you are going to do.”

Her home was built in 1971 and the Billard’s purchase the property in 2017. She stated that she had requested public records, but that the 101 Boyd Road records have not been provided. “I’m holding the City liable for damage to my property,” said.

Mayor Goedde stated that the City will have to decide what they are going to do. “We will not make everybody happy,” said Goedde.

Mayor Bob Goedde stated that the City will look into the issues, but assured the residents that they will not be happy.

Lisa Garvich shared the residents concerns. “We need to limit impervious paving. We’ve never had water in our yards.”

During Mayor/Council comments, Public Works Director Jake Youngren said his crews spend most of June cleaning up after that storm. “I don’t have any solution or answers right now,” said Youngren. It (Chelan Hills) is an older infrastructure area.”

Public Works Director Jake Yongren stated he had no solutions or answers immediately.

Councilman Peter Jamtgaard remarked that his mother’s basement was also flooded and that he was still working on the cleanup. Councilman Chris Baker also remarked that his basement was flooded and that he had clogged drain.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle remarked that these storms were considered 100 year events within one week of each other. “We could get more of these occurrences.” Councilman Tim Hollingsworth thanked the residents for coming in. “We need to think hard about how to address these things. Public Works have had their hands full.”  He added that the Council needs to work with administration and staff on these issues.

Councilwoman Sheri Dietrich added that the Council hears them. “There were a bunch of people who have had problems,” she said.

Mayor Goedde told the residents to keep the City in line, but was informed that the storms were an “Act of God.”

In other business:

The Council unanimously accepted the Lake Chelan Airport Runway and Taxiway Relocation Environmental Assessment Grant offer from the FAA which carries a $11,000 match requirement by the City.

They also unanimously accepted a WSDOT (Washington State Dept. of Transportation) Grant offer for the same project.

Council unanimously authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute an authorization with RH2 Engineering for design services for the Anderson Road Infrastructure Project. Youngren told the Council that sewer and water would be looked at along with a fire flow analysis by the end of August. The cost will be reimbursed by the Chelan Valley Housing Trust.

More Mayor Council Comments:

Youngren said Public Works is looking for a sweet spot on garbage pickup on downtown Chelan. “Most of the garbage comes from food products.”

Luis Gonzalez reported that the Planning Department is extremely busy.

Luis Gonzalez reported on the Planning Department’s activity. He said the department has 43 active applications. “We have hired an associate planner who will be working directly with customers,” said Gonzalez. “We are very, very busy and are working on a two week turnaround on permits. “It is challenging to build in Chelan because of the topography. We understand what is going on out there.”

Attorney Quentin Batjer.

City Attorney Quentin Batjer told the Council that Hearing Examiner’s finding of fact that will allow residential building at Apple Blossom Center will come before the Council to make a recommendation to either Adopt, Reject or Remand the decision to change the zoning. “Your decision is based on that record (of facts).” Batjer stated that extraneous comments from constituents have no bearing on the issue anymore because the record has been closed.

However, there are plenty of feelings about the possibility of 720 apartments being build on the Apple Blossom Center property and its effects on the community. Councilman John Olson told his fellow council people that there decision to approve or not approve a zoning change for 30 acres of Apple Blossom Center will have wide effects.

The original application by Weidner Apartments was for 284 apartment. That changed to 720 when the apartments in Leavenworth filled up before they were even finished.

According to Olson, approving the zoning change could change the nature of Chelan forever. This could result, according to Olson, a 50 percent increase in usage of the streets, post office, school, parks and stores. Olson wonders if the City has the capacity to handle that growth.

Olson concludes:

  • the property owners have the right to develop;
  • apartments are desperately needed in Chelan;
  • Apple Blossom Center is likely the best place to locate apartments;
  • Denial of the zoning change could be risky for the City; and
  • the scale is overwhelming.

The Planning Department approved the zoning change as did the Hearing Examiner (HE). A number of residents testified at an open Public Hearing by the HE, and all but one of the testifying public were concerned on a number of levels at the density of this project and its effects on the community.

Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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