Water policy concerns heard by Tonasket council

TONASKET – Concerns from residents about the water policy in the possible annexation area south of Tonasket were heard during the Tuesday, June 22 Tonasket City Council meeting.

“The reason we wanted you guys to come is that we’ve extended an olive leaf to those who have private wells,” Mayor Patrick Plumb said. “The wells can be kept but they have to be separate from the city well so the entire city’s water isn’t in danger. Last week, I spoke to all three legislators about my disappointment in us not receiving the Community Development Block Grant funds because we lost out to a library and a park and getting the creek cleaned up should be a higher priority. The legislators said they would help push it through next year because they had a lot of success in Ione. One thing I need, though, is to be able to show we have a lot of support for this project.”

One resident at the meeting expressed concerns with the water policy because they don’t want to subdivide their property, but some day they may want to sell it and when they do, their well will no longer be available. They said if the wells are taken away, the property value goes down because nothing can be done with the land without water. The resident said they would like to be annexed, especially for the sewer, but if it’s going to hurt them as landowners, they’ll stay the way they are.

When Council Member Joyce Fancher told the landowner that if their property is annexed into the city and hooked up to city water and sewer, the value of their property will actually go up, the resident responded that their land would be useless because the water won’t be available.

Another resident said cleaning up Bonaparte Creek is the main priority and mentioned they saw government people checking the water at the bridge before asking what the people can do.

“We have a core of people working on this project and I feel very strongly we may be able to do something in the next year,” Plumb said.

He then requested that the attending residents bring more of their neighbors to the Tuesday, July 13 meeting for a continuance of the discussion.

Contract Planner Kurt Danison then explained Resolution No. 2010-06 “A resolution of the City Council of Tonasket, Washington announcing its intent to adopt an updated Shoreline Master Program” to the council.

“Last week, the (Okanogan County) planning commission held a public hearing which no one attended,” Danison said. “They had a 30-minute discussion and passed a resolution for the cities to pass a resolution to announce their intent to adopt an updated Shoreline Master Plan.”

The council approved the resolution before Danison moved on to explaining Resolution No. 2010-07, which adopts certain policies to protect the long-term viability of the Tonasket Municipal Airport.

“The planning commission has been looking into amending the comprehensive plan to protect airports and the areas around them,” Danison said. “This seemed like an ideal time to give the commissioners cover to limit land use around airports in order to protect them.”

This resolution was also approved by the city council. Danison next told the council about the Regional Transportation Planning Organization (RTPO).

“RTPO has been the vehicle that federal transportation dollars get funneled through for enhancement,” Danison said. “They have money now, approximately $850,000 for a three-county area. These are non-vehicular enhancement dollars for things related to providing transportation.”

Danison suggested the council think of projects, such as adding sidewalks and ADA approved sidewalk corners for easier wheelchair access, for a couple of blocks within town. The council members said they would think of projects they would like to apply for these dollars for and would discuss it more at their next meeting.

The next meeting will be on Tuesday, July 13 at 7 p.m. in Tonasket City Hall.