By Marcy Stamper

Okanogan County hearing examiner Dan Beardslee took testimony last week from two representatives of the Walking D Corporation and one neighbor on a proposal to rezone eight acres just north of Twisp.

The proposal would change the zoning from 20-acre lots to 12,500-square-foot lots to accommodate residential development and preserve an agricultural field, according to the application. At the June 26 hearing, Walking D president Ken Doran said he addressed concerns raised by neighbors about an increase in traffic and a drain on infrastructure.

Doran said this week that he explained that there is currently no intention to do any development and that the proposal is designed to create small lots where up to six Doran family members could build houses in the future. Only one of the six houses has been built thus far, said Doran.

Leahe Swayze, who lives near the Doran property, was the only member of the public to testify at the hearing, although the county received about 15 comments on the proposal, all opposed to the rezone. In her written comments, Swayze said she had no objection to the Dorans building houses on the ranch, but that she was concerned that the proposal does not preserve the agricultural field because it allows housing sites to encroach on the field and does not include provisions that protect the field. 

Swayze also expressed concerns about erosion on the steep hillside adjacent to the field, which would be included in the rezoned area. The field is already in the 12,500-square-foot zone.

If the proposal is approved, Swayze requested the county impose conditions to mitigate traffic and dust and prevent erosion. 

The application submitted to the county describes up to 10 residences on the smaller lots. “It’s a little bit counterintuitive—we actually want an expansion of the density zoning to be sure we don’t have more density,” said Doran. 

The majority of the 600-acre ranch is protected by a conservation easement with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Beardslee’s decision is due by early next week.