Chelan County PUD has leased approximately 18 acres of land in Douglas County to Piepel Premium Fruit Company LLC. Commissioners approved the 20-year commercial orchard lease agreement, with an initial cost of $7,000 and a 3% annual increase. The arrangement will reduce ongoing maintenance expenses for the PUD.
Piepel, an East Wenatchee-based company, will develop 13 acres for orchard use and maintain the remaining 4 acres, including weed control and garbage removal. Property maintenance costs, which amounted to $22,000 per year, will now be the responsibility of Piepel. The lease includes three optional five-year renewals. Either party can choose not to renew without penalty, and the PUD can cancel the contract with a two-year notice during the renewal periods. This offers flexibility for future property usage.
The land, acquired by Chelan PUD in 1959, is located north of Rocky Reach Dam and overlooks the Turtle Rock area on the Columbia River. The agreement includes a provision for reimbursing Piepel for capital costs within the first 15 years, enabling the PUD to terminate the lease if needed for licensing requirements.
Previously leased for tree fruit research, the property has been managed internally by the PUD since 2012. Piepel has not yet commented on the agreement.