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Major earth-moving in a project may trigger state processes, county regulations

(Above photo is a stock photo)

With more development occurring in the county’s foothills, Chelan County Community Development is also seeing more county regulations triggered by the movement of large amounts of soils and rock.

While Chelan County does not have a “grade-and-fill” ordinance, that doesn’t mean developers are off the hook when it comes to a SEPA environmental review and other county regulations, said Deanna Walter, director of Chelan County Community Development.

“It is never our goal to hinder or stop development,” Walter said. “But it is our job to enforce county codes and regulations.” 

SEPA, or the State Environmental Policy Act, is a process that addresses cumulative environmental impacts. Under SEPA, local governments and state agencies use an environmental checklist to help determine if a proposed development’s impacts are likely to be significant to the environment around it. In fact, the state mandates that any excavation of 1,000 cubic yards or more requires a SEPA review. (The fee for the SEPA review and determination is $215.)

In addition, the Critical Areas of the Chelan County Code (Chapters 11.77, 11.78, 11.80, 11.84 and 11.86) highlights protected or critical habitat that may need to be taken into consideration with any development. If an area is listed as being a priority habitat, such as shrub steppe or mule deer winter range, or as having a priority species, such as golden eagle, a critical area review will be required:

A critical area review is required for all land uses, development activity and alteration of any land, water, vegetation, structure or improvement in Chelan County that proposed land use action is within, likely to be within or is adjacent to a critical area whose buffers may overlap the proposed action, regardless of whether or not a permit or authorization is required from the county. (Chelan County 11.77.030)

Priority habitats and species maps are listed on the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife website.

Similar provisions are in place for the other critical areas designations.

If the director of Chelan County Community Development determines that a parcel of a proposed land use action is within, likely to be within or is adjacent to a critical area whose buffers may overlap the proposed action, a critical areas report or assessment prepared by a qualified professional specific to each critical area is required from the applicant. If the county must hire independent qualified consultants to assist in review of critical area reports, the applicant is responsible for the cost. The critical area reports may include required mitigation steps.

Finally, if the movement of land during development then causes an encroachment, or impact, on nearby public infrastructure or a private utility, such as an irrigation canal, those are also considerations to take into place. A slope above an irrigation canal, for example, may cause extra runoff into the canal, which may then cause complications for the purveyor and, ultimately, other customers. Landowners will need to mitigate any encroachment issues to protect nearby infrastructure.

Walter welcomes any questions from developers or their team of professionals.

Last Updated: 04/18/2024 11:41 AM

Chelan County Calendar

Upcoming events and schedules at the county!

  • 10
    Jul 2024
    10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

    Chelan County Civil Service Commission

    Posted by: Human Resources

    The Chelan County Civil Service Commission will be meeting on July 10, 2024.

    Chelan County Commissioners Office, Conference Room 1
  • 03
    Jul 2024
    09:00 AM - 10:00 AM

    Hearing Examiner - July 03, 2024

    Posted by: Community Development

    By Zoom Video Conference or in person call 667-6225
  • 26
    Jun 2024
    06:30 PM - 09:00 PM

    Planning Commission - June 26,2024

    Posted by: Community Development

    400 Douglas Street
  • 26
    Jun 2024
    07:00 PM - 08:00 PM

    Assessor's Office Community Meeting: Chelan and Manson

    Posted by: Chelan County Assessor

    Chelan County Assessor Wes Cornelius invites property owners and all interested parties to attend one of four community meetings scheduled this spring throughout the county.

    Chelan City Hall
  • 25
    Jun 2024
    10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

    Public Meeting: Official Logic and Accuracy Test of Voting System and Accessible Voting Unit (AVU) Demonstration

    Posted by: Chelan County Elections

    Chelan County Auditor’s Office