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Chelan County commissioners are facing the challenge of improving unpaved roads as development surges.

Since a 2009 county code change allowed building along these roads, there has been a massive increase in construction. However, Commissioner Tiffany Gering highlights that those who build homes along these primitive roads are unaware that there is no funding available for their improvement or paving.

Currently, county commissioners have discretion, according to state law, to determine when improvements are necessary for primitive roads, but remain open to new ideas. One potential option for the county is to establish a road improvement district for necessary upgrades. In this arrangement, the county would finance the improvements through methods such as bond sales and later bill landowners based on their property's assessed value.

Public Works Director Eric Pierson informed commissioners that the county would likely bear the majority of improvement costs, as assessed property values wouldn't increase enough to cover expenses. Union Valley Road and Burch Mountain are among the roads frequently mentioned as needing immediate improvement.

County staff are currently addressing the need for primitive road improvements. However, Pierson emphasized that funding available through the Federal Lands Access Program would still fall far short of covering improvement costs.

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