Okanogan County is considering purchasing 546 acres near the town of Methow at a cost of $1 million for a gravel pit and wildlife habitat. The property is on the west side of Highway 153, near Danzl Road, just north of Methow.
Information about the number of acres that would be used for the gravel pit was not available at press time. The remaining land would be wildlife habitat and have public access, according to a draft purchase-and-sale agreement.
There are four parcels in the proposed transaction, all owned by Claude Miller. The land is used primarily for agriculture, according to records of the Okanogan County assessor. There is a pole barn on one of the parcels.
Total appraisal by the assessor for all four parcels is $434,500, with the pole barn valued at $24,600. The land was reduced in value in 2014 after being burned in the Carlton Complex Fire. Timber land was reduced by 50% and other lands by 25%. Parcels being considered for purchase are 3123310006, 3023064004, 3022011005, and 3022120005.
Operating a gravel pit on the site would require a conditional-use permit (CUP), which would have to be approved by the county’s hearing examiner. After taking input from the public, if the Okanogan County commissioners ratify the purchase and sale agreement, there will be a 180-day feasibility period, which includes the CUP application.
The county’s planning director has determined the proposal to purchase the property is exempt from environmental review. The application for use as a gravel pit will have its own environmental review.
The purchase is also contingent on soil testing for contaminants, which would be paid for by the county.
The county commissioners are holding a study session and public hearing about the proposed purchase and land use on Monday, July 8, from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the commissioners’ auditorium in Okanogan. People can provide up to five minutes of verbal testimony. They can also submit written comments at the hearing or in advance to Laleña Johns at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Information about the proposal is on the Planning Department website at www.okanogancounty.org/planning.