School levies will be on February ballot
Voters will decide in February on two replacement levies for the Methow Valley School District — one for maintenance and operations (M&O) and one for technology.
Last week, the Methow Valley School Board directors unanimously approved two resolutions for the levies, which would help pay for school staff; instruction in music, art, Spanish and engineering; basic maintenance and classroom supplies; and for upgrades in computers and technology throughout the district.
The M&O levy would start at $1.8 million and increase by $50,000 in each of the next four years, adding another $200,000 to the total.
The technology levy is for a total of $2,225,000, to be paid in fairly equal portions over four years, from $525,000 to $575,000.
If approved, the levies would add about $1.80 per $1,000 in valuation to a property-tax bill, according to school district estimates. The tax revenues would be collected starting in 2017, after the existing M&O and technology levies expire.
Two informational sessions have been scheduled to explain the levies and the process followed by the levy task force, how schools are funded in Washington, and the projected impacts on property taxes.
The sessions — both the same — are on Thursday, Jan. 14, and Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Methow Valley Elementary School library.
Information about the levies is also available on the school district’s website at methow.org.
Comp plan appeal in court this week
A challenge to how Okanogan County’s comprehensive plan handles water availability, wildfire and landslides will be heard in Okanogan County Superior Court this week. The appeal was filed by the Methow Valley Citizens’ Council and Futurewise in January.
The two environmental organizations appealing the plan say it allows more residential development than the county’s limited water resources can support. They also say the plan does not protect county residents from fire and landslides.
The county says growth has been very slow and that the increase suggested by the appellants is “more fantastic than probable,” according to the county’s brief.
The appellants also say the county did not meet the state’s requirements for designating commercially productive agricultural and forest lands in the comp plan. They claim that the county’s environmental review of the impact of the plan was inadequate.
The county argues that MVCC and Futurewise do not have standing to bring the suit, since they have not shown that they have suffered actual injury as a result of the comp plan.
Oral arguments are before Superior Court Judge Christopher Culp on Thursday (Dec. 17) at 1:30 p.m.
County may extend zoning code update
Okanogan County has been relying on an interim zoning code over the past year while planning staff, county commissioners, an advisory committee and the public have been studying the 154-page document and proposing revisions. Now the interim version is about to expire, so the county commissioners are considering extending the deadline another six months.
The county last adopted a zoning code in 1978 and county planners are proposing significant changes.
The zoning code provides specific guidelines for land uses, such as minimum lot sizes and where residential, commercial or industrial development can be. Since there are more than 20 zones throughout the county, the code and accompanying maps are a complicated patchwork of rural, residential and commercial zones.
The code affects how many neighbors you can have and the impact on natural resources and built infrastructure like roads. It lists a wide variety of land uses, from professional buildings to kennels to dairy farms, and shows whether they are permitted, prohibited, or allowed only with a conditional-use permit.
The current draft of the zoning code contains proposed changes, none of which are final. The county’s planning commission will deliberate about that draft on Wednesday (Dec. 16) at 7 p.m., but will not take any testimony.
The county commissioners are holding a public hearing regarding extending the deadline for updating the code to June 22, 2016. The hearing is Monday (Dec. 21) at 1:30 p.m. The public can provide oral testimony or submit written testimony at the hearing or before, to email@example.com.
Information about the zoning code is available from Senior Planner Ben Rough at (509) 422-7122 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The working draft of the zoning code (from Oct. 16) and maps are available at www.okanogancounty.org/planning. Click on the links next to “Zone Code” (not the “Interim Zone Code”).
Christmas dinner in Twisp
The Methow Valley Snowmobile Association will host its annual community Christmas dinner on Christmas Day (Dec. 25) at the Methow Valley Community Center in Twisp. The fee event will take place from noon – 3 p.m.