by Richard Uhlhorn
Manson Community Council held its regularly scheduled meeting after taking a hiatus in July because of a lack of forum. This meeting was not well attended and the Council didn’t have much on the agenda.
The Council discussed a date to host a Candidate’s Forum for those candidates that are being challenged. Kathy Blum said the forum should be held in Chelan which could draw voters from Entiat, Manson and Chelan. “It needs to be in Chelan in October,” she said. It would be held prior to ballots being mailed to registered voters.
The Sheriff’s, County Clerk, and County Commission races are contested along with several state and national races. Ballots are mailed out on October 21. The Council is looking at the Performing Arts Center at Chelan High School depending on costs and maybe the Riverwalk Park Pavilion where a past, successful forum was held. This would depend on weather.
The date and time will be posted when details are worked out.
Chelan County Interim Community Development Director, Deanna Walter was on hand to discuss the County Development Codes.
Walter said that developers, real estate companies are using the Boundary Line Adjustment rules to divide parcels into more lots than were originally plotted. “They can do this without going through SEPA and other normal criteria in the code,” she said. “They don’t have to do a traffic study, mitigations and no review by the department.”
Walter said that Boundary Line Adjustments are administrative with no notifications to surrounding residents required. “We can’t reverse what’s been done, but we can look at changing the regulations for the future.”
The 10 lot parcels are reduced to minimum of 2.5 acre lot sizes in the County Code. She gave a short history of how the Code has been used and said, “the Code has to be changed.”
Walter said a Task Force was being set-up to investigate, amend and make recommendations to change the codes. It will include seven individuals from different backgrounds from agriculture to real estate, but Walter stated each industry would only have one representative allowed on the Task Force. “There will be no loading or bias on the committee.” She will attend these meetings, but stated that her role was not to direct or influence the outcome. “I will just be there to be a part of the process.”
“The task force needs to have an active farmer on it,” said Walter. Burke Consulting will be hired to facilitate the meetings. Past Manson Community Council chair, Chris Willoughby offered to be on the task force as an active farmer.
The timeline to finish the Task Force input is the end of 2022.
Brian Patterson asked if the Task Force would be open to the public. Walter said “Yes.”
Walter told the Council that they need to engage with their commissioners who are very active and have the ultimate decision making on any amendments that come forward. “Developers and applicants know the code better than I do,” said Walter. She also told the Council that anything requiring a comment period, they should receive.
“Not everyone is happy with my decisions, but I am consistent and fair,” said Walter.
After the meeting County Commissioner Tiffany Gearing’s inability to engage with or attend Council meetings came up in a separate discussion. While Gearing is not up for re-election in the near future, her lack of engaging with her constituents through the Council prompted Council Chairman Kari Sorenson to commit to running for Gearing’s commission seat. “I’m running unless somebody better than me steps up,” said Sorenson. “She made promises she have not followed up on.”