The Okanogan County hearing examiner is considering a conditional-use permit for a proposal to use an existing barn on the Twisp-Winthrop East Side Road as a wedding and event center.
In October, Okanogan County hearing examiner Dan Beardslee dismissed appeals from four neighbors who said the proposal for Gardner View Ranch would have a significant adverse impact on the environment.
The appellants had expressed concerns about noise, water use, and the size of crowds, and said there was no plan for handling increased traffic. Beardslee said the appellants’ concerns could be addressed by mitigations in a conditional-use permit.
In his initial environmental review of Gardner View Ranch in July, Okanogan County Planning Director Perry Huston said outdoor lighting would need to be shielded to minimize glare, and music and other amplified sound would have to end at 10 p.m.
The application for Gardner View Ranch was submitted in May on behalf of property owners Rick and Jan Fulcher. The property is on the Methow River, accessed from the Twisp-Winthrop East Side Road via Bean Road, 1.3 miles south of Winthrop.
The proposal envisions using an existing 36-by-48-foot barn on 18.5 acres (where there is also a residence), which adjoins an undeveloped 10-acre parcel. The event barn could serve 40 to 200 participants.
Part of the property would continue in agricultural use. Parking would be on a mowed portion of the agricultural field. Water will be provided from an exempt well that, because the use is commercial, would be interruptible. In that case, people holding events at Gardner View Ranch would be required to use bottled water and sanitation facilities would be provided by temporary trailers.
From comments submitted to the county, most neighbors appear to support the project. Many said the Fulchers had been conscientious in ensuring that the event center does not adversely affect their neighbors. But others were concerned about noise, fire risk, traffic, and inappropriate zoning.
There are hundreds of pages of documents connected with the county’s review of the proposal, including questions raised in 2016 as to whether the property is zoned for commercial use. The application for Gardner View Ranch says the owners hosted a small number of events in 2016, with permission from the county, to see how the site would work.
In his comments about the project, the Okanogan County building official noted that the owners had renovated structures without a building permit, in violation of state law and the county code.
The hearing examiner has continued the hearing on the conditional-use permit to Tuesday, Dec.14, at 10 a.m. in the commissioners’ hearing room. People can submit questions and comments to Pam Wyllson in the Planning Department at (509) 422-7122 or email@example.com.