New group formed to promote strong leaders for county commissioner
Although three dozen candidates are vying to be the next U.S. president, there are only a handful of contested races in this November’s local elections. Okanogan County Commissioner Jim DeTro ran unopposed for his second term in 2014.
A new organization — called Represent Okanogan County, or ROC ON 2016 — has set out to change that. The group’s mission is “to identify, encourage and elect qualified individuals to run as candidates for Okanogan County commissioner.”
Next year, when the terms of Okanogan County commissioners Ray Campbell and Sheilah Kennedy expire, ROC hopes to find “strong leaders who will truly represent the people in November 2016.”
According to its organizers, ROC does not represent any political party. They are looking for effective county leaders who will make thoughtful, well-informed decisions for the future. “We seek those who are dedicated to transparent and responsive government,” they say.
The group, with countywide membership, is concerned that the current board of county commissioners has made public participation difficult, devoted time and financial resources to criticizing the state and federal government, and engaged in expensive lawsuits.
For more information about the group and position papers on topics such as agriculture, wildfire, land use and public health — or to assist with their efforts — visit ROC’s website at www.rocon2016.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about Army’s proposed helicopter training
The Methow Valley Citizens’ Council (MVCC) is holding a meeting on Thursday (Oct. 1) for those interested in learning more about the U.S. Army’s proposal for training combat-helicopter pilots at high elevations in the North Cascades.
Speakers will help people understand the proposal, covering both specific local issues and the larger picture of the military’s plans for its helicopter program, according to MVCC. The meeting will be from 7 – 9 p.m. at the Twisp Valley Grange.
The information can help inform comments to the Army about the proposal. The Army is soliciting input as part of its scoping process, which will help it determine what environmental impacts should be addressed in its analysis.
Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), near Tacoma, proposed seven new high-altitude training areas in June. If approved, pilots would learn to take off and land at high altitudes, on pinnacles and on ridgelines. Other maneuvers include hovering several feet above the ground and controlling the helicopter so that only a portion — such as a single wheel — would touch down on the ground.
Aircraft traveling to and from the training areas would fly at 500 feet and above to minimize noise complaints and disruption to populated areas, according to the Army’s proposal.
The proposed mountain training area runs from south and west of Wenatchee to the Canadian border, west to the North Cascades, and east to the Okanogan Highlands. JBLM says the new training area is needed to simulate conditions in Afghanistan at up to 14,000 feet. Training would take place 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, but the majority of the training would be at night to simulate flight and combat conditions.
The U.S. Forest Service would have to issue a special-use permit to the Army for the training.
For a copy of the scoping document or more information, visit http://www.lewis-mcchord.army.mil/publicworks/sites/envir/eia_HTA.aspx or call JBLM at (253) 967-1110.
The Army has extended the comment period twice. The deadline for comments is Nov. 3.
Comment on land-use changes and variances
A property owner on East Chewuch Road has applied to Okanogan County for a variance to allow an existing shed and deck cover that are too close to neighboring property lines. Kimberley Vande Griend has a shed that is 3 feet from one property line and 30 feet from another, although county zoning requires a 50-foot setback, according to the application.
The Vande Griend property is on Cottonwood Lane. This is one of several parcels whose owners have petitioned the county for variances or special permits from floodplain and setback restrictions and septic regulations to allow existing structures to continue to be used.
The Cottonwood Lane applications are a result of code enforcement by the county’s Building and Planning departments in response to a complaint letter, according to Anna Randall, a planner for Okanogan County. The county’s enforcement is driven by complaints, she said.
Property owners in the Lost River Airport development have requested a variance from county zoning requirements governing the portion of a lot that can be occupied by development.
James and Abby Brousseau want to construct a deck on an existing residence that would exceed the allowable lot coverage by 3 percent, covering 13 rather than 10 percent, according to the application.
The Okanogan County hearing examiner will hold a public hearing on the two variance requests on Nov. 12 at 10 a.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room in Okanogan.
For more information or to comment on either one, contact Randall at (509) 422-7117 or email@example.com.
An application to modify a planned development near the Mazama core has been submitted to rezone and subdivide part of Chechaquo Ranch to accommodate future development. The development would include lodging and tourist-residential and seasonal housing. The amended plan would also create six lots and an area designated as open space. The property is 2.67 acres.
Okanogan County is accepting comments on the environmental impact of the changes. The county will schedule a public hearing on the proposed changes in the future.
For more information or to comment, contact senior planner Ben Rough at (509) 422-7122 or firstname.lastname@example.org.