A zoning change that increases the minimum lot size in the lower Methow Valley five-fold – from 1 to 5 acres – will remain in place until the Okanogan County commissioners adopt a new zoning code.
The change was enacted on an interim basis in June because the commissioners were concerned the small lots would allow thousands of houses to be built, despite the fact that there isn’t enough water to supply them.
The zoning change slashes the number of buildable lots by 81%. The change affects properties from Gold Creek to just north of Pateros.
Because the change was implemented on an interim basis, the commissioners were required to hold a public hearing within 60 days. Two people spoke at the July 15 hearing, both in favor of the larger lot sizes.
State law allocates 14 cubic feet per second to the entire Methow watershed, which is divided equally among seven reaches. The Lower Methow reach, which runs from Twisp almost to Pateros, is the largest. It also had the highest-density zoning, allowing the 1-acre lots.
Under the new zoning, the possible number of new lots drops from almost 12,000 to just 2,275.
Anyone who already has a parcel smaller than 5 acres will be able to build on the lot, since those parcels are considered legally pre-existing, said Okanogan County Planning Director Perry Huston.