AUGUST 3, 2020

The Okanogan County Board of Commissioners met in regular session at 123 5th Avenue North, Okanogan, Washington on August 3, 2020, with Chairman, Commissioner Jim DeTro; Vice Chairman, Commissioner Chris Branch; Member, Commissioner Andy and Laleña Johns, Clerk of the Board, present.

Review Commissioners Agenda and Consent Agenda
Commissioners reviewed their agenda. No changes were offered.

Commissioner Branch left for a few minutes to visit the fairgrounds to observe the bathrooms used by contractors that Maintenance Supervisor was notified about with regards to cleanliness issues being concerned over the departure of DNR crews.

Commissioner Hover signed into ZOOM at 10:00 a.m. to touch base with the other commissioners as he injured his eye and could not drive. He knew the schedule was light today but is available if he is needed.

Emergency Manager Maurice Goodall asked the commissioners about Cares Act funds being available to purchase about four-20x30 size tent type building/structures like the ones used at fire camp. They come with air conditioner and a power generator. The cost is about $30,000 to $40,000 each. They would be used for COVID-19 related uses. They could be used in other years for EOC type uses afterward.

Briefing Among Commissioners’ – Discuss Individual Weekly Meetings & Schedules
Commissioners discussed having a department head meeting to discuss Coronavirus strategies as Okanogan County is one of the hot spots in the nation with total positive cases around 772 and of those 312 new cases in the last 14 days. There have been 5 deaths!

Update-Planning Director Pete Palmer
Director Palmer

Director Palmer provided her agenda and discussed the items listed there. A support letter was drafted to Kristen Bail, Okanogan Wenatchee National Forest Supervisor, regarding their proposed amendments to the Okanogan Land and Resources Management Plan standards and guidelines.

Director Palmer provided an update on the negotiations on the Well Tracking software. It was sent back to Aspect so they could adjust their scope of work/proposal budget to align with the funds available and include the first year for Riverbank to host and maintain the program. Director Palmer went over the grant amount budgeted with Aspect. She was not in favor of absorbing the administrative costs in the planning budget. Hopefully they can make those adjustments and will get back to her soon.

Director Palmer met with the project review committee and discussed the two houses on one well clarification that the health department does require certain minimum acreages for the different zones. There is a difference between planning permitting and public health permitting that will need to be worked out between the two offices to make the process consistent in the code. It does take staffing time and right now staff isn’t able to address it but will as soon as there is some room in their workload.

Director Palmer stated her office is closed again to the public due to the number of positive cases in the county so now customers have to work through email or phone. Folks can drop items off.

Director Palmer said she sent an email to Commissioner Hover requesting purchases of equipment that would help Planning staff to work from home. She thought the expenses could be paid for with CARES ACT aid to telework and help keep office going due to COVID. How does the board feel about the purchase of the equipment?

They would also need to purchase a drone and software that would allow site visits without meeting on site face to face. They need a camera with a zoom lens for the same thing and two more lap tops both would allow staff to work from home as much as possible. Commissioner DeTro stated he thought it was a good idea but a supplemental to the planning budget would be needed later as these costs are not budgeted for.

Commissioner Branch asked about the software to be used for the drone work.

Some helicopter work will be done to perform the dam inspection and they want us to close the trail down during the work as it will take several days. Requesting more closures in 2021 the whole season with no public access in March to November in 2021, and then again in 2022 during the whole month of June.

The public continues to access the trail beyond the dam and the bridge there is unsafe as it has no rails. A hard copy of the tunnel report and the structure assessment showing it hazardous to the public and it alluded to the county having an easement past the gate and clear up to the tunnel. We need to figure out how to close that portion of the trail for safety and liability issues. We do need to figure out whose responsibility it is and will find out once we the wade through the easement language.

Commissioner Branch wondered if there was some compromise that could be made. Commissioner DeTro stated if they worked four 10’s they could be open on the weekends. Do something more about the end gate and put rails in. Maybe the tunnel should be blocked off with an iron gate. Palmer said perhaps there was a way to block it off, but people would still be able to go around. It is very steep and many would not go around. Commissioner Branch said he isn’t sure, but he thinks it is BLM land. There is the Noxious weed problem and it was alluded that was due to livestock grazing in the area, however they do have a weed management plan that is very strict. The new portion of the trail conveyance is still being worked out. The attorneys are continuing to work on that.

Commissioner DeTro said it is obvious where the weeds are and that it is due to vehicles. Cows aren’t doing that.

Ms. Palmer stated she is using her personal vehicle for site visits. Commissioner Branch stated she should be claiming the expense. A solution is being worked out since the Planning vehicles are all broken down.

Director Palmer explained the various meetings she will be attending.

She is still trying to clear up the issues that MVCC see with the county’s comp plan. She hoped that they would have provided the bullet points but instead provided her a book to wade through.

The Jolley and Ludwig appeal hearings are set for August 20 before the hearings examiner.

Motion - Voucher Approval - Commissioners
Vouchers certified and audited by the Auditing Officer as required by RCW 42.24.080 and those expense reimbursement claims certified as required by RCW 42.24.090 have been recorded on a list, and made available to the Board. As of this date, the Board did vote, by unanimous vote, to approve the regular vouchers in the amount of $104,205.53 and Payroll vouchers in the amount of $913,153.68. Warrant numbers as cited on the attached blanket voucher list. Motion seconded and carried.

Motion Public Health Voucher
Commissioner Branch moved to approve the Public Health Vouchers including regular vouchers in the amount of $483.79 and payroll vouchers in the amount of $32,576.60. Warrant numbers as cited on the attached blanket voucher list. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

Public Hearing-WRIA 48 Ordinance 2020-4-Planning
Director Palmer, Commissioner Hover via Zoom, Commissioner DeTro and Commissioner Branch present.

The Clerk turned on the audio recorder.

Commissioner DeTro opened up the public hearing stating this is a public hearing regarding OCC 17A.400 Water Availability Study Area Water Resource Inventory Area #48-Methow Basin. He asked for the staff report. Director Palmer provided her staff report. (attached) She relayed the background of the situation as noted in her staff report.

Jasmine Minbashian Director MVCC already submitted comments. But commented for years concerned about growth outpacing the water. The valley is growing rapidly and continuing pressure on real estate trend and at present no plan that addressed responsible plan. Thank you for adopting the ordinance as it is a good start. Support work plan outlined in the ordinance. Long standing concerns, however very strong concern about exemptions still in the ordinance. How many lots may be created in each reach under the exceptions for existing house. How many new lots are possible under 2020-4 and really important to understand the question and how it relates to the study. Even without any move subdivisions that there is inadequate water to supply 1000 lots that exist in 2011. How many additional lots have been created since then. Without the information the risk and scale of the problem is totally unknown. If the goal is to stop digging our hole deeper, it is still getting deeper, every new house built and every one will still need addresses, until the plan is complete. Totally committed to identifying long term solutions and many counties have come up with solutions but they cannot until the county realizes the problem.

Isabelle Spohn Twisp, we need to question how much more development obvious that water is not only good for residents but also visitor. How do we ration the water so the plan needs to be a top priority? The information needs to be filled in. She heard one idea that we could tack in more houses and only have indoor water Instead of putting restrictions we would remove the right for people to have a garden and have fire protection. How can we think of being rural if we cannot grow our own food? We depend on shipping food across highways. How do we know what the limitations are? Making it top priority using science. Remove things that do not agree with the law. If the lots remain rural plan ahead to use intelligent sciences?

Commissioner DeTro proposed to close public testimony and leave written testimony as a final decision will not be made tonight due to having items for legal review. Commissioner Branch stated there may be a date to consider. Commissioner Hover said the ordinance was signed June 17, 2020. We had 60 days to hold the hearing. The ordinance in effect began December 2019. Commissioner Branch stated the moratorium should not be in place more than one year without a work plan with demonstrated progress.

Commissioners discussed timelines to ensure those were met. Commissioner Branch wants to know what Commissioner DeTro had in mind to extend written comments. Commissioner Hover stated he did not feel it was necessary to extend the comments as there were many in-depth comments already to consider. We only have the information that we have so we have to back date data to work it out. The plan could be brought forward. Add to the scope of the work plan to basically get out as much information as we can. The bullet points that should be shared in an email to put it into what the board is looking at. The comments that were submitted are in the record. Commissioner Branch said the decisions to make are what is included in the work plan, determination of the extent for potential for additional water. Commissioner DeTro closed all public comment.

Commissioner Hover moved to close public testimony for the public hearing both written and verbal. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

Commissioner Branch stated the full decision to amend the ordinance before adopting it could be an exhibit on what the work plan says and the exemption under 58-17 needs to be revised to be specific and also calls out section 1 ….58.17.040 as the exceptions. Commissioner Branch said he did research on our exemptions for exempt segregations and it almost pulls it back into 58.17 and he looked through that with planning staff. Commissioner Hover would like to be very specific because there are things about condominiums and that was not thought of and he does not want something that allows that and for the board not to have thought about it. Commissioner Branch said it does need further attention because it is not clear. Commissioner Hover said if we decide to close testimony and then down the road we redo the ordinance he wants to discuss what would be revised. He wanted to explore what the board is thinking. We touched on a few here. He thinks we can calculate on reserve and what use. Looking at the comments and addressing each one on the applicability would be important to discuss. This is difficult because the groups who comments and is tough for the county to consider affordable housing and because of the position we are taking the planning process is made more difficult. If we get this right it would ease some tension then as we move forward we can address the agriculture portion by Jr. users. There are things like that some do not understand with regards to water law. There may be places like Tunk around the Methow. I tis important to get this correct and keep the rural atmosphere. There is an abundance of people there and he doesn’t think he should stop development, but people want to come over here. He knows we’re are experiencing the growth faster than other parts of the county. Look through the comments and look at them with attorneys and revise the ordinance to better get at what the board is really trying to do. Commissioner Branch agrees. The strategy going forward is to review the comments and spend time reviewing with the attorneys he would agree and would not move to do anything until we have that conversation. Commissioner Hover stated he thought the hearing could be closed.

Commissioner Branch moved to close the public hearing. Commissioner Branch said there is still a decision to be made in terms of the ordinance and seeking clarity to figure out how to answer questions and land owners that are trying to use their property and he has arranged to have executive session tomorrow. Commissioner Hover would like to put this together quickly and be able to vote on an amended ordinance. Motion was seconded, all were in favor, motion carried.

The board adjourned at 5:55 p.m.