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Growth the lead topic at Chelan City Council meeting and public hearing regarding 2017 Comprehensive Plan updates

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City of Chelan Mayor Mike Cooney welcomes the public to a hearing to listen to public comments regarding the 2017 Comprehensive Plan Update. (Photo by Jeremy Gleeson)

Chelan City Council met in regular session in a special location at Chelan High School’s PAC on Tuesday, August 22, 2017, to accommodate an expected influx of public comment due to a public hearing regarding Chelan’s Comprehensive Plan amendments. The council was to hear from Planning Director Craig Gilderoy who later presented the final recommendations for the update to the 2017 Comprehensive Plan. Prior to those discussions, City Administrator Mike Jackson presented topics related to the Airport Master Plan.

Airport Master Plan

 According to the motion overview, the update of the Lake Chelan Airport Master Plan is a requirement for future Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) funding of airport projects. City staff worked through the Request for Qualifications, Selection process, Independent Fee Estimate and Negotiation requirements of the FAA. The Scope of Services consists of 13 required planning elements with a total cost of $380,588.60.

“They will pay for 90 percent of the master plan (which is $346,579),” Jackson explained. “The next item is to accept the WSDOT grant offer which would pay for 5 percent (or $19,254.43) of the plan, and the city would pay the additional and remaining 5 percent ($19,254.43). The final item is to accept the professional services agreement with JUB Engineering who would complete the airport master plan [work].”  

All motions related to the Airport Master Plan were approved unanimously by council.

City Administrator Mike Jackson presents motions regarding the Airport Master Plan prior to the opening of public comment period pertaining to the Comprehensive Plan Update. (Photo by Jeremy Gleeson)

City of Chelan Comprehensive Plan

The City of Chelan’s Comprehensive Plan Update was next on the agenda, and Mayor Mike Cooney opened discussions by welcoming and instructing the community in the process of a public forum.

“We look forward to an amicable and respectful hearing,” Mayor Cooney encouraged. “This process has been going on for nearly a year. This is the 24th public meeting. I have great respect for our staff the council and the planning commission which has done a lot of work on this. We are now into overtime on this project, but we wanted to make sure it was done correctly and that everyone had a chance to have their say.”

Cooney continued, “The hardest thing is to balance what people want and what people own property and get people to hear each other. It is a hearing. We will listen and hear.”

Lisa Grueter, AICP of BERK Consulting began the hearing with a brief presentation outlining the cumulative work that has been done over the course of the year.

“The plan is required by the Growth Management Act,” Grueter stated. “It is intended to plan for the growth which is projected for the city. It is meant to support that growth with capitol expenses.”

A map demonstrates proposed zoning changes in Chelan as part of the 2017 Comprehensive Plan Update. Click on the image for a larger view. (Courtesy of City of Chelan)

Councilmember Wendy Isenhart asked for clarification on the tourist accommodation (TA) zoning code.

“I think that is the most common question we have been getting is — Does that mean that in those (TA) zones that single family would be mixed in with tourist accommodation?” Isenhart asked.

“There is a wide variety of uses,” Grueter clarified. “With TA you can do single family, multi-family, hotel, resort, because its flexibility it has been applied in a number of locations.”

During the public comment portion of the meeting Chris Martin of Wenatchee, who also works for and is a family member of The Goodfellow Brothers who own GBI Holdings Inc. the current property owners of the Three Fingers, updated the community on a plan for one of the fingers.

“I hear often, why doesn’t Goodfellow Brothers work with the city? We have had a lot of time to work with the mayor and Craig (Gildroy) to see what they would like,” Martin said.

Martin explained that they have heard that the community wants everything from parks, to parking and even public restrooms on one of the ‘fingers’.

Chris Martin spoke on behalf of Goodfellow Bros., Inc. and invited the community to weigh in on plans to utilize one of the ‘three fingers’ for public space. (Photo by Jeremy Gleeson)

“We have come up with a plan. This is very preliminary,” Martin stressed. “We as a company and family love this community, and we want to find a win for the community.”

Martin explained that the preliminary plan includes public dock access, a seaplane dock and public water access. He asked that the community add comments to a display board that was present outside the meeting so that the team could include them in the plans.

Steve Kline spoke representing the ‘Friends of Lake Chelan’. Kline has previously spoken at many of the Comprehensive Plan meetings and workshops urging support for additional public access to Lake Chelan. The public access that Kline specifically identifies is the three fingers.

“The council has to do what the community wants or our opportunity for public access will be lost forever,” Kline urged.

The Three Fingers are owned by Goodfellow Bros., Inc. and have been the topic of much debate both in the courts and in the community. Many community members would like to see a portion or all of the ‘three fingers’ used for public purpose. (Photo by GoLakeChelan.com)

Comments related to additional public access to the lake were echoed at the meeting by many community members from both from the Lake Chelan Valley and the areas surrounding.

Community members voiced other issues or concerns with the Comprehensive Plan. Rolf Vegdahl, a resident of Chelan, spoke asking that the proposed rezoning of the area behind Campbell Avenue to TA zoning be reconsidered.

“The appeal our neighborhood has is that it is a neighborhood. I love where I live. Modest homes have been built and older homes are being renovated. We have had issues with crime, but we have turned a corner on that,” Vegdahl stated. “To open up West Campbell Avenue to weekend vacationers threatens our progress and the character of our neighborhood.”

Affordable housing was of high interest to several community members who pointed out the lack of current workforce housing in the community.

“Everyone knows affordable housing is needed, but no one wants it in their backyard,” community member Lynette Grande summarized. “The city could require developers to provide a small percentage of their overall units as small square footage rental units or even sell some housing below market rates to Chelan residents in the medium income range.”

Resident and visitor comments continued throughout the meeting to reiterate requests for lake access, public parks and careful planning to avoid diminishing views in the region.

With public comment made, the Chelan City Council will begin deliberations on the Comprehensive Plan Update with a final decision expected during the regular meeting to be held on September 26, 2017. To view the 2017 Comprehensive Plan Update and related documents, visit this page at the City of Chelan website.

(By Jillian Foster)

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