The latest round of suggested updates for Winthrop’s Westernization code landed at last week’s town council meeting, where council members decided they needed more time to sift through a 25-page document that includes existing regulations with suggested changes sprinkled throughout.
The recommendations were passed along by the Planning Commission, which had earlier reviewed and in some cases suggested revisions to wording proposed by the Westernization Design Review Board, (WDRB) which oversees administration of the code.
The suggested revisions, indicated with red type in the Westernization code document, cover topics such as whether food trucks must abide by Westernization rules — an issue that has come up in the past — and what may seem like an arcane but significant wording distinction between an “adjacent public way” and a “public way.”
The revisions include requiring that flower baskets hanging from businesses in the Westernization zone would have to be in “neutral or muted” colors, and no plastic baskets would be allowed. “Hanging material must rustic in appearance, such as rusted or black chain,” the updated document recommends. There are also detailed suggestions for how signs must appear and how they can displayed.
Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said while the overarching goals are the same, there are some points of disagreement between the WDRB and Planning Commission recommendations.
Council members agreed that they need to become more familiar with the recommended changes before acting on the proposals. They scheduled a joint meeting with the Planning Commission for Tuesday, Sept. 12, after the News went to press, to go over the details.
The council can at some point hold a public hearing on the proposed revisions, but is not required to.
The code was last updated in March 2019. One of the provisions in that update was to allow solar arrays permitted in the W-1 and W-3 zones provided they are not visible from Highway 20. That provision was specifically relevant to the planned solar array on the Winthrop library.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a grant application to the state Reservation and Conservation Office for a one-time award of up to $100,000 for parks maintenance, which would require no local match. Culp said priorities for use of the money would be improvement of the Winthrop Barn parking lot and projects at the Winthrop Rink.
• Accepted conditions of a $100,000 grant through state Department of Commerce’s Connecting Housing and Infrastructure (CHIP) program that will reimburse the town for system development fees it waived for the Wildrose multifamily, affordable housing project being built by the Housing Authority of Okanogan County (HAOC) as part of the Cascade Meadows North development.
• Separately, endorsed grant application requests for an additional round of funding through the CHIP program. According to a memo from Culp, “this is not a grant the town would apply for without a developer moving forward with specific plans for affordable. Housing.” She identified three possible projects:
HAOC would like to request additional money to pay for construction of water and sewer lines in a parcel it will develop.
The Methow Housing Trust would like to request funds to pay for system development fees in its portion of the Cascades Meadows North development.
Christian Kar, owner of Mountain Annex, would like to apply for CHIP funds to support infrastructure related to a proposed bunkhouse-style development on West Chewuch Road.
Culp said each of the entities will help with the grant applications.
• Accepted an offer of $3,000 to buy a surplus 2005 Honda Goldwing motorcycle from the town. The motorcycle was purchased from the City of Tukwila in 2018, with the intent of developing a motorcycle component in the Winthrop Marshal’s Office — but that never happened and the motorcycle has been in storage since.
Marshal Ty Sheehan called the purchase “an interesting idea that never happened,” and said the offer is higher than the fair market value of the motorcycle and more than the town would likely be offered at auction. He said the proceeds could be applied toward purchase of snow tires for the department’s patrol vehicles.