By Phil Millam
While it is tempting to simply ignore Randy Moore’s recent letter (“A stupid law,” April 15), we feel it is necessary to reply because errors and misstatements, left uncorrected, may tend to be believed. Randy is accurate only in stating the Methow Valley Citizens’ Council (MVCC) has appealed Okanogan County decisions multiple times regarding ATVs, the comprehensive plan, and lowering environmental review thresholds. Litigation is expensive and time-consuming, and MVCC would not engage in those tactics if we did not believe the county has violated state law and its own ordinances while failing to listen to the citizens of the Methow Valley.
Otherwise, Mr. Moore errs in his critique of the Shoreline Master Program (SMP), which regulates development along rivers and lakes.
• Error No. 1: “…the commissioners may get rid of the Shoreline Master Plan.”
Fact: The county is attempting to grossly weaken the existing SMP, but cannot “get rid” of it because it is a requirement of state law.
• Error No. 2: “This plan (the SMP) says that riverfront property owners must allow public access…” 100 feet upland of the high water mark.
Fact: There is no requirement in the old or proposed county SMP, or the law, that the public be allowed access above the high water mark, nor would MVCC support such a requirement. Many landowners generously allow public access, but it is not required.
• Error No. 3: “It (the Shoreline Management Act) is just a stupid law that was force (sic) on us by environmental groups, state and federal governments.”
Fact: The Shoreline Management Act is the result of a 1971 citizens’ initiative, which the Legislature modified, and was then adopted by the voters of the state of Washington in 1972. There is no federal mandate. The law allows local jurisdictions and citizens to determine the fate of their waterways through an open public process so long as it meets minimum requirements set by the Department of Ecology, as called for in the act.
Imagine the Methow River’s appearance if landowners could subdivide and build fences down to the waterfront, construct homes 50 feet from the high water line and replace shoreline vegetation with lawns. The Wenatchee River corridor is an example of what the Methow River could look like if the commissioners are successful in gutting our SMP.
We trust the readers to disregard a host of other erroneous statements in Mr. Moore’s letter, and respectfully disagree with his claims.
Phil Millam is a member of the MVCC board.