Methow section still to come
By Marcy Stamper
Although there is no final section on the Methow Valley in the current draft of the comprehensive plan, the Okanogan County planning commissioners have sent the plan to the county commissioners, with an agreement in principle to bring the Methow section up to date.
In passing on the comprehensive plan on Monday (Aug. 26), the planning commissioners directed Planning Directory Perry Huston to revise the two sections on the Methow Valley – one for the Methow Valley School District from 37 years ago and one on Mazama from 13 years ago – and to clarify a newer chapter in the comp plan draft about more intensive planning for the Methow.
The sections on the Methow have been an issue over the course of the county’s seven-year update of the comprehensive plan, the first revision since 1964. The draft plan creates a framework for special planning areas within the county, if local residents desire different protections or set different goals from the rest of the county.
The planning commissioners and members of the public have said the current chapter on the Methow Valley is confusing because it is unclear whether it applies to the Methow Valley School District or only to the area around Mazama. The commissioners have asked Huston to clarify the boundaries and to update outdated references from the old Methow and Mazama plans.
The county commissioners are impatient to move ahead with the process, as Huston told the planning commissioners in a memo sent Aug. 16. “The Okanogan Board of County Commissioners wishes to proceed with the adoption of the revised comprehensive plan in as expeditious a manner as possible,” he wrote, noting that the planning board’s 90-day review period would be exceeded at the Aug. 26 meeting and indicating that the county commissioners would simply take the plan back if it was not officially transmitted.
Noting the growing impatience of the county commissioners, Methow planning commissioner Dave Schulz agreed to send the plan on with their suggestions to Huston about how to fix it.
“My direction is clear,” said Huston. “Of course, I have to get there – the devil is in the details.” He said he has good suggestions from community members and advisory groups about how to handle the Methow sections.
While the planning commissioners agreed to transmit the plan, Schulz, chair Albert Roberts and Brewster-area commissioner Marlene Rawley acknowledged that it made them nervous not to see the final sections on the Methow.
“How will people from the Methow feel? Whatever gets written goes to the board of commissioners, or should we look at it first?” asked Rawley.
Huston said they could ask the county commissioners to hold an open-record hearing before approving the plan. He said the county commissioners would adopt each section of the comp plan separately – the basic narrative, the map, and the sections on the Upper Methow and the Methow Valley – but that the extent of review would be up to them.
Planning Commissioner Tamara Porter, from Oroville, voted against transmitting the current draft because she objected to having a special planning area for the Methow Valley designated in the comp plan instead of handling it in the zoning code. Mark Miller also voted no, saying the plan is not representative of the people he cares for. The other five present approved it.
The county commissioners have not set a date for their review of the plan.