Plans for Stoneywilde, a rustic retreat and campground on Twisp River Road about 1 mile west of town, can proceed to the next phase, now that proponent Virginia Tinkey has received a conditional-use permit (CUP) from Okanogan County.
Okanogan County Hearing Examiner Dan Beardslee reviewed Tinkey’s application and agency and public comments at the end of October and approved the project with conditions a few days later.
Tinkey intends to use a permit-exempt well to supply the campground and other infrastructure. Because water for instream flows in the river and for the Methow Valley Irrigation District has priority, if those levels fall below minimum flows, Tinkey must stop using the well and instead provide water for guests through an alternate water source approved by Okanogan County Public Health, Beardslee said.
The CUP requires Tinkey to meter water use from the well and to provide a log to Okanogan County on a monthly basis. Some commenters noted that exempt wells cannot be used for commercial development in the Methow watershed.
The county received 18 comments on the proposal, half from county and state agencies and tribes, and the others from area residents.
Agencies, tribal governments and conservation groups raised questions about water use. Some noted the potential that archaeological and cultural resources would be found on the property, especially in light of its proximity to the Twisp River.
With one exception, neighbors and area residents voiced concerns about the project — in particular, noise, fire danger, smoke, and impacts on water and wildlife. One Twisp resident hailed the proposal for its potential to bring more business to the town.
Two neighbors testified at the hearing. One said he’s concerned about the impacts of parking on his adjacent lot. Another said he was completely opposed to the proposal because of concerns that guests would be loud. He was also concerned about fire danger, trespassing, negative impacts on wildlife, and increased traffic on Twisp River Road.
Another speaker said she had worked with Tinkey on the development of the project and that it would be low-impact on both the neighborhood and the environment.
Stoneywilde will be subject to an annual review to ensure all conditions are \met, including compliance with the phased development of the project. The application says Stoneywilde will be constructed in three phases.
In the first phase, Tinkey would construct five to seven campsites with walled tent platforms and fire pits, but no hook-ups. It would also include bathrooms, a hot/cold plunge or sauna and steam room, and an outdoor kitchen, according to the project application.
In phase 2, Tinkey would add a second communal kitchen, six more campsites and a bathroom. In phase 3, she would build a house and office. Maximum buildout could include a greenhouse, garage, locker room and showers.
At the hearing, Tinkey described the project as a small and intimate rustic retreat space to bring artists together, according to the minutes. She wants to be friendly to the environment and have a maximum of 20 people at a time, she said.
The application had stated that there were two wells. Review of the proposal determined that only one is for domestic use. The other is for irrigation through the Methow Valley Irrigation District, which has the first right of refusal if Tinkey proposes to sell or alter the water right.
Tinkey will have to obtain all necessary state and county permits and keep them current throughout the operation of Stoneywilde. The structures will require building permits and the development needs a road-approach permit, according to comments from county departments.
In addition to the campsites and related amenities, Tinkey plans to construct one residential house.
Tinkey plans “a think-tank for adults” that will be “a peaceful, zen experience that fosters engaging conversations, delicious food, and interesting people,” according to the application.
The property, at 77 Twisp River Road, is on the south side of the road, just beyond the Twisp Ponds. The parcel currently has several outbuildings and sheds.