(emailed on August 31, 2023)
Hello supporters of the Chelan Butte,
We have a number of updates to provide at this time. First, thanks to your generous support, we have retained the land use law firm Bricklin & Newman to assist with any legal questions or issues that arise. As they state on their website, they have over 80 years of combined experience advocating for the environment and have been involved in some very large conservation cases in Washington, including the preservation of a mountain near Mazama that was slated to become a ski resort. They are one of the premier environmental/land use law firms in the state, have an excellent reputation over decades of work, and have already provided us with some very helpful legal determinations.
We anticipate that additional monies will be required as our efforts proceed, so we continue to request donations through our website or to our mailing address at P.O. Box 1073, Chelan, WA 98816. Thank you for your continued support.
Since our last update, some of you may have heard that the potential Chelan Butte developer (Mr. Raja Venugopal) commissioned the drilling of several test water wells on the Butte. This was baffling to both CBC and the City of Chelan, since current City code precludes the use of water wells on lands with the zoning found on the Butte. Any new development which requires a building permit would instead be required to hook up to the municipal water system; similarly, on-site septic systems are not allowed. The City noted this to Mr. Venugopal, but he went ahead with the drilling (it is legal to drill the wells, they just cannot be used).
CBC has met with City staff to confirm the code requirements for what are known as “interim” water and septic systems. Based on our meeting, it continues to be our understanding that water wells and septic systems could not be used for the type of development on the Butte that Mr. Venugopal has been suggesting. We continue to await further clarification of his goals.
The Boundary Line Adjustment (BLA) Moratorium remains a key issue for the preservation of the Butte. The City has proposed new code for BLAs and CBC board members support this proposed code. This will close down the loophole that the potential developer was trying to use to circumvent the subdivision process and all of the important health, safety, and infrastructure requirements that go along with it. We note that the loophole scheme that was going to be used on the Butte prior to the BLA Moratorium would not be allowed in many other cities and counties throughout the state and has recently been shut down by Chelan County. It is therefore not unusual that the City would make these modifications to the BLA code.
It is anticipated that there will be a hearing for the new code in front of the Planning Commission at their regular meeting on Wednesday September 20th. We will provide more information on this as we get closer to that date, as community support will be very important to make sure that these changes are made.
Lastly, we wanted to let you know that the first meeting of the group supporting the Trust for Public Land (TPL)’s Chelan Butte Acquisition Feasibility Study occurred in early August. This group includes TPL, CBC, the City of Chelan, the Lake Chelan Trails Alliance, and others who are interested in finding a way to preserve a significant portion of the Chelan Butte. This study has been funded by a $125,000 grant from the state legislature. Currently, it is anticipated that there will be a public meeting looking for community input for this study in late September or early October. We will of course keep you apprised of the timing, as we hope that many of you will be able to attend this very important meeting.
That’s it for now, but as always please feel free to reach out to us with your comments and questions.
Chelan Basin Conservancy President
on behalf of the CBC board:
Lisa Garvich – Vice President
Tony Crosetto – Treasurer
Mary Bider – Secretary
Chelan Basin Conservancy
P.O. Box 1073
Chelan, WA 98816