By Marcy Stamper

The Okanogan County hearing examiner has scheduled a hearing on an amendment to the county code that would rezone about eight acres just north of Twisp from 20-acre lots to 12,500-square-foot lots to accommodate residential development.

Okanogan County received a dozen comments on the environmental impacts of the proposed change, most from neighbors. All were opposed to the amendment.

The zoning change for the Walking D property would accommodate future building sites while retaining an irrigated agricultural field, according to the application submitted to the county in March by Ken Doran. It would change zoning from 20-acre lots in the uplands to the 12,500-square-foot zone on the valley floor. Without the change, any building would have to occur in the field, which is already zoned for 12,500-square-foot lots, according to the application.

The majority of the Walking D property, which covers hundreds of acres, is protected by a conservation easement, according to Okanogan County Senior Planner Ben Rough.

Several commenters pointed to inconsistencies in the application, which they said describes plans for three residences in one part and up to 10 in another, and shows six lots on an accompanying map.

More than one commenter claimed that the area in question is on a steep slope and raised concerns about erosion. Without extensive excavation of the hillside, development would encroach on the agricultural field, they wrote.

Several neighbors expressed concerns about an increase in traffic and dust on the narrow Twisp streets near the property, and about related safety issues.

More than one commenter questioned the impacts the proposal would have on fish and wildlife, and whether the proposal is in compliance with the conservation easement, held by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

John Doran, a family member and stockholder in Walking D Inc., urged the county to postpone any decision on the rezone until pending litigation involving the property has been settled.

The Okanogan County planning director has issued a final determination of environmental nonsignificance associated with the rezone. The environmental determination can be appealed in writing to the Okanogan County commissioners at ljohns@co.okanogan.wa.us by June 5. There is a $300 fee to appeal the ruling.

The public hearing on the project is on June 26 at 10 a.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room in Okanogan. For more information or to comment on the project, contact Rough at (509) 422-7122 or brough@co.okanogan.wa.us.