[10/15/21] Methow Building Moratorium Continued

Posted in Business & Economy, Local Government & Meetings

On Monday, the Okanogan County Commission voted to continue a moratorium on new permits for some 235 lots in the Methow basin. The issue is water. Commissioner Andy Hover says keeping the ban in place will allow the county to use the best available science to find an approach consistent with water laws and rules that allow people to build. He says using cisterns rather than a well, with water brought in from outside the Methow basin, appears to be the quickest solution. A public hearing was held, with 30 people attending, and ten people speaking. Only two speakers supported keeping the moratorium in place, although they said the county contributed to the problem by allowing subdivisions and issuing other permits for infrastructure while building permits are on hold.

The 235 lots are affected by a 2002 state Supreme Court ruling, which found that a developer couldn’t use single-domestic wells to provide water for multiple lots. That arrangement requires a group water system, the justices said.

At Monday’s hearing, Okanogan County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney David Gecas warned that lifting the ban on building permits could subject the county to lawsuits from a special-interest group or the State Department of Ecology. The county is hoping to get clarification about whether construction on the 235 properties is permissible as part of a lawsuit the county filed against Ecology.