By Marcy Stamper

When it comes to long-range planning, sometimes hindsight is as helpful as a view into the future.

The board of Okanogan County commissioners think their predecessors — from two boards ago — may have had the right idea about the county’s comprehensive plan after all.

They’ve decided to take a serious look at a comp plan draft from six years ago, which went through a legal review and was pretty close to being adopted when former commissioners Bud Hover and Andy Lampe lost the election in 2012, according to Okanogan County Planning Director Perry Huston.

When Ray Campbell and Sheilah Kennedy joined Jim DeTro on the board in 2013, the three substantially rewrote the plan, said Huston.

The commissioners adopted that version in 2014, but the plan quickly became the subject of lawsuits that said the plan fails to protect water quality, doesn’t address wildfire risk, and doesn’t protect wildlife habitat.

Now commissioners Andy Hover and Chris Branch (who defeated Campbell and Kennedy last year), along with DeTro, have decided to take a more serious look at the 2012 version, said Huston.

The 2012 and 2014 plans start with a different tone. The 2012 draft describes the process of gathering neighborhood and technical groups to provide a range of land-use options. Reference to that process was dropped in the 2014 plan, which instead refers more generally to a long and complex process that considered a variety of ideas and opinions.

Both plans describe the diversity in the county’s geography, occupations and lifestyle, and a universal belief in Constitutional rights. Both say the plan will direct the use of land and resources to provide for future generations.

Huston is currently working on revisions to the 2012 draft for the commissioners’ review. Eventually three versions will be circulated to the public — an update of the 2012 plan, the current 2014 version that was challenged in court, and the county’s original plan from 1964, he said.

Last year the commissioners solicted comments to address the concerns about water and fire in the current plan. Huston and he expects that the revisions to the 2012 plan will address many of those comments.

Huston hopes to have a working draft for the county commissioners next week. Once they go over it and make changes, the county will issue a preliminary environmental review and enter the scoping phase, where the public is asked for suggestions of topics to be addressed in an environmental impact statement.