Will consider how to proceed on request at July 25 meeting
The Twisp Town Council has postponed discussion of preliminary approval for the proposed Orchard Hills planned development to its July 25 meeting, when council members will consider how to proceed on the request.
The Planning Commission’s lengthy report to the council, recommending preliminary approval for Orchard Hills with a list of conditions including provisions for additional access, was on the agenda for discussion at the council’s July 11 meeting.
However, the council postponed what had been scheduled as a “closed session” to consider the planning commission report, and instead held an executive session to discuss what was described as potential litigation, which is allowed under the state’s Open Public Meetings Act.
At a previous meeting, the council had indicated it planned to review the Planning Commission’s report in “closed session,” which is allowed for quasi-judicial processes that may include permitting. The public and news media would be excluded from such a session.
Last week, Mayor Soo Ing-Moody said that at the July 25 meeting, council members will discuss how to conduct their review of the Planning Commission recommendations.
The council’s executive session at the July 11 meeting may have been in response to a letter from the law firm representing Palm Investments North LLC, the applicant for preliminary approval of the project, objecting to several recommendations in the Planning Commission’s report.
The letter from Bellevue-based Johns Monroe Mitsunaga Kolouskova PLLC is included as part of the public record in the materials provided to the Town Council. Among other points, the letter raises questions about the council’s process in dealing with application including an objection to the council’s plans to review the application on June 11.
The law firm’s letter asks that the council eliminate or revise a condition recommended in the planning commission’s report that a second access be provided to the proposed development before the project can proceed. According to the letter, “the applicant will voluntarily work further with the Town to accomplish secondary access if feasible but this should not operate as a condition of approval.”
As originally submitted, the Orchard Hills planned development proposed construction of 52 units on approximately 17 acres on the bluff west of downtown Twisp. About 40% of the area would be preserved as open space. Orchard Hills was first submitted to the town in May 2022 and has undergone several revisions.
The preliminary approval report from the Planning Commission is based on planning staff findings and recommendations, applicable town ordinances and policies, public input, and Planning Commission discussions. It addresses issues such as ingress and egress, which is now limited to one public street, fire protection, density and traffic impacts.
The Orchard Hills project has drawn more public involvement than any town-related Twisp issue in recent memory. The Planning Commission held three well-attended public hearings, and considered dozens of oral and written comments about the housing proposal — which are included in its preliminary approval report — and further discussed the submission at several meetings.
The public input portion of the process is completed and the council will not be taking public testimony on the planning commission’s recommendations. However, according to the letter from the applicant’s law firm, if the council takes any action other than approval of the planning commission’s recommendation, then a subsequent public hearing must be scheduled.
Planning Commission vacancies
The makeup of the Twisp Planning Commission has been slightly altered to provide that three of the commission’s five members be town residents.
The action came at last week’s Town Council meeting. Previously, only two members of the commission needed to reside in Twisp.
There are currently two vacancies on the commission, which the council hopes to fill at its July 25 meeting after interviewing applicants. There were four applicants as of last week. Applications can still be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.