By Marcy Stamper
People who have been awaiting the next stage of the county’s comprehensive plan—the environmental analysis of the current draft, which has changed substantially from the one that was the basis for the last environmental impact statement—should soon have another opportunity to consider its environmental impacts.
The planning director and attorneys for the county are finalizing their analysis of the plan, which itself has undergone additional revisions since county commissioners worked on it last summer. Much of the focus in the last round of edits was about how to plan for the Methow Valley and the area around Mazama, which have different guidelines from the rest of the county.
Moving from the draft environmental impact statement (EIS), which was released in 2011, to the final one has been complicated because the county’s initial approach was to analyze the comp plan, zoning and subdivision codes, shoreline plan, and critical areas ordinance all at once to be sure they are consistent, said Okanogan County Planning Director Perry Huston.
But when the task of reviewing all those documents simultaneously proved overwhelming, those working on the plan at the county (with wide support from the public) opted to handle the plans one at a time. There have been so many iterations over such a long period of time, and so many different directions, that the environmental review has become confusing and hard to follow, said Huston.
So the county is working with Okanogan County Chief Civil Deputy Steve Bozarth to figure out the best way to bring the EIS up to date and provide adequate time for the public to comment, said Huston.
While Huston was planning to issue a final EIS, they are considering creating a new draft environmental analysis with a new comment period, he said.
The comp plan has been in the works for seven years. The county’s current plan is from 1964.
“Mostly, we are just trying to figure out how to write it all up,” said Huston.