CBC Efforts to Preserve Chelan Butte – Update #12 (2/29/24)

(emailed on February 29, 2024)

Hello supporters of the Chelan Butte,

Here is the latest news on our efforts to preserve the Chelan Butte. Although not much new has been announced publicly, a lot continues to happen in the background as Mr. Venugopal continues to work on his plans to develop the Butte without regard to the wishes of the local community. We note that he is now about 15 months into his planning, but has yet to submit a specific proposal to the City of Chelan.

One known issue is that Mr. Venugopal and his team continue to try to work out how they would supply water and sewer service to lots on the Butte. They are trying to find alternatives to hooking into the City’s municipal water and sewer systems (presumably to cut costs). As we have pointed out previously, Chelan city code does not allow the use of water wells and septic systems on the Butte and even in our most recent conversations with City personnel they continue to agree that this is the case.

We had heard that Mr. Venugopal approached the Isenhart Irrigation District (IID) with a water-rights attorney in tow about the IID potentially supplying water and/or water rights. This would be extremely complicated since the IID boundaries do not extend onto the Butte and it does not supply potable water, but we wanted to track it anyway. Two CBC board members attended a recent IID board meeting as this was discussed and it was clear that the IID board was not interested in this proposal. So we believe that this approach is dead for now.

We are wary about potential efforts to circumvent the Chelan city code for interim water systems, possibly through legal pressure, so we continue to keep an eye on this issue and are asking our attorney to review any potential loopholes.

Another big issue that we have mentioned previously is our contention that the Butte property owner, Golden Gate Ventures, improperly subdivided one large lot into 29 smaller lots. Chelan code required that the smallest lot created by this subdivision exceed 20 acres, but we have provided evidence to the City that in fact more than one lot was less than 20 acres. So, the property owner contends that they have 58 legal lots on the Butte and we contend that 29 of those are not legal lots.

The City, for its part, has stated that they do not need to resolve the issue of the subdivision until a land use application is submitted for one of more of the lots in question (e.g., a building permit application). At that point, they would make a determination. We continue to gather additional evidence for our arguments, including seeking professional assistance.

The Chelan Butte Acquisition Feasibility Study being facilitated by an attorney hired by the Trust for Public Land (utilizing $125,000 allocated by the state legislature) continues to progress. The steering committee, which includes all CBC board members and other local stakeholders, has now met twice and has outlined the study goals. These goals include detailing a vision for public use of the Butte, determining a feasible ownership structure, and identifying financing options for both purchase and ongoing maintenance of an open space area on the Butte.

A key component of this study is input from the local community. To that end, several community meetings are being planned. The first two community meetings have been scheduled in the evenings of March 21st and April 25th (both are Thursdays) [editor’s note: these dates have been pushed back to April 4th and May 9th]. We will be providing more details soon, but please mark these dates on your calendar if you are able to attend. It will be important to have a large show of support by the community at these meetings and to gather as much input as possible.

We would like to thank everyone for their generous financial support of our efforts, as the funds raised have allowed us to seek legal and other professional assistance on the crucial issues mentioned in this email. We continue to push to further expand our email list, so please forward this email to anyone you know who might not have already signed our online petition to preserve the Chelan Butte (link). By signing the petition, they will automatically be added to our email list. Thank you!

That’s it for now, but as always please feel free to reach out to us with your comments and questions. Financial donations can be made on our website or by check sent to P.O. Box 1073, Chelan, WA 98816.

Brian Patterson
Chelan Basin Conservancy President

on behalf of the CBC board:

Lisa Garvich – Vice President
Tony Crosetto – Treasurer
Mary Bider – Secretary

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Chelan Basin Conservancy
PO Box 1073
Chelan WA 98816

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