Support solar in W-3
Can Winthrop utilize solar energy without detracting from Westernization? Here are answers to some questions that have arisen.
The proposed amendment has progressed to a public hearing before the Planning Commission (April 10, 6 p.m., Winthrop Barn). The commission then makes a recommendation to the Town Council for final vote.
Winthrop businesses support the proposed amendment to the Westernization code to allow businesses to install solar panels on gable roofs, not seen from Highway 20, in the W-3 district. Fifty-five business owners and managers, from downtown and W-3, signed a survey supporting the amendment.
Some 18 lots in W-3 have prime solar and commercial potential. I called most of these property owners who all said the amendment would not detract from Westernization.
There are no other opportunities for Winthrop businesses to install solar systems that cannot be seen. Snow accumulation prevents solar panels on flat or low-sloped roofs where false facades, on all sides of a building, could hide them.
Revised state solar incentives help individuals and businesses recover some costs of installing solar, and allow only 501-c-3 organizations to install community solar projects. No one representing Little Star School asked me to pursue this code amendment, which is for all non-residential properties in W-3.
In the 1850 to 1900 era Winthrop strives to represent, false-front buildings were the hallmark of a western town. Gable roofs were behind the false fronts with rain barrels below, and the stock animals, troughs, and outhouses were outback. Today we cannot hide, or do without paved roads, propane tanks, heat pumps, and refrigeration units, all of which are visible in Winthrop. To give tourists an old-west experience, we don’t need to do without the benefits of solar energy technologies — just put the equipment “outback.”
What do you think: Would seeing solar panels on gable roofs in W-3’s “backyard” be detrimental to Winthrop’s old west tourist attraction, or beneficial to Winthrop business development and viewed positively by tourists and Methow Valley community members?
Come to the public hearing. Speak up to support the amendment. If you cannot attend, send comments to email@example.com.
Ellen Lamiman, Winthrop
Thanks from rodeo queen
I am writing to thank everyone who came out to the Rodeo Queen Coronation Dinner, Saturday, March 24.
A huge thank you to everyone who contributed to a fun and successful event. To all the people who helped cook the dinner, all who baked the desserts for the auction, and to everyone for the monetary donations, I truly appreciate the amazing generosity. And thank you to my 4-H group, the North Cascades Wild Riders, the kids and parents went above and beyond with decorations, prep, serving, cooking and clean-up. Thank you to the Eagles for providing the venue, and to Hank’s Harvest Foods for generously donating the main dish. Thank you to the rodeo council for granting me with this amazing opportunity and experience. And thank you to Methow Valley News for the coverage and support. Thank you to my parents, so much, for always standing by me with love and support. I apologize if I am missing anyone, but I thank each and every one of you immensely.
The Methow Valley community is incredible, and I am so grateful and honored to be a part of it. I am so humbled by everyone’s wonderful generosity and support, and I am so proud to represent our valley and the wonderful people who live here as this year’s Rodeo Queen. This experience is a huge honor.
I invite you all to come out to both our home rodeos on Memorial and Labor Day weekends.
Athena Milani, 2018 Methow Valley Rodeo Queen
Leveraging the benefits of solar power is the right thing to do. Not only is it consistent with the can-do attitude of the pioneers who settled the Methow, but it is a financially responsible path for local businesses. With power prices rising and the burden on our power grid increasing, the opportunity for businesses to capture the sun’s energy should be encouraged.
I urge you to support the proposed amendment to allow roof mounted solar panels to be visible from public right of ways other than Highway 20 in the W-3 zone. It is consistent with the Winthrop Comprehensive Plan Policy 3.16, which states: “Encourage energy efficiency/conservation, and provide for the use of alternative energy sources throughout all land use designations.” Solar power is the most viable alternative energy option available, and when roof-mounted at the same angle as the roof it will not detract from the purposes of Westernization
In W-3, roads wind around and the Susie Stevens trail meanders, making all sides of most business sites visible from public ways. Requiring roof-mounted solar to be screened by a false front is not realistic, as the false front would have to be on four sides, which would no longer be a false front. Then it is just a flat roof building with a tall parapet, which is modern architecture. W-3 is a mixed-use area with a number of residential homes and commercial lots, and an apartment complex, which are not governed by the Westernization code and could install solar panels.
The comprehensive plan policy 3.9 is to continue to promote Winthrop’s western theme as a key economic generator and an aesthetic asset to the community. The Westernization Code states: “The W-3 District generally corresponds to the B-3 commercial district, the area of mainly highway-oriented retail and services. The scale of development allowed by zoning is less conducive to period authentic structures consistent with the Winthrop western theme and is regulated accordingly.”
I believe we can support both solar and Westernization since the solar panels would not be visible from Highway 20.
Cara Godwin, Winthrop
Grateful to Little Star
As a Little Star Montessori School parent, I am writing in support of “Little Star Builds a Place for All Children.” It is huge relief for us as working parents that Little Star has been able to expand their programming to serve infants and toddlers in both Twisp and Winthrop.
My family has personally benefited from the Little Star expansion since our daughter arrived in October. We were anxious to find reliable infant care when I went back to work — so I reached out to Little Star South while on maternity leave. They worked with us to ensure the child care lined up with our schedule, and in addition, we were able to apply for and receive a generous scholarship that allowed us to send our daughter an extra day every week!
In the two-month period that she has been attending, we have already seen her form great relationships with the teachers and other kids in her class. Not only has it allowed us to maintain our livelihoods, but at only 5 months old, we already feel like our daughter is developing a strong educational foundation which we find so important. I am so thankful for the community contributions and the hard work of Little Star staff and board members.
Taylor Ferrill, Carlton