Thursday, February 22, 2024

Bear Mountain Water District to hear all complaints before making decision

Decision may not come till May

Posted

CHELAN - There are intense meetings, and then there was the Bear Mountain Water District public hearing. 

If you happened to squeeze your way into the standing-room only pavilion at Tsillan Cellars around 1 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, you certainly would have sensed the frustration that was shared among the 60 plus  property owners that were in attendance. 

The motive behind all the displeasure was a formation of a Utility Local Improvement District (ULID) that would help bring fire flow to parcels around the Bear Mountain Golf Course, Hawks Meadow and the lakefront properties that run along SR 97A from Tsillan Cellars to Pat & Mikes. The formation of the ULID - which is split into two now after recently being shut down by Hawks Meadow - annexed the lakefront property owners in February, effectively putting them on the hook for around $2.1 million of the total $2.6 million project. 

As you would imagine, this ruffled the feathers of a few homeowners. 

So Attorney Chuck Zimmerman was called in to help represent one - and probably more now - of the lakefront property owners. 

“I have been able to determine that the owners of this big large area (referring to Bear Mountain) annexed the big property owners plus the strip along the lake so they had 60 percent of the landmass,” Zimmerman said last Friday. “They did it legally, it’s just really slick. So now what property owners will have to do is petition the district to get removed from the district, and that process will take several months. I doubt they will take us out, they are relying on my clients to pay for their water system.” 

Zimmerman - who stated he has worked on several ULID’s in the past - said that in 30 years of practicing law he had never encountered a situation like this and one this poorly written. 

In the meeting on Wednesday, ZImmerman said the typical ULID proposals he receives are around nine pages. The Bear Mountain ULID was one page. 

Despite the widespread criticism at the meeting Peterson said on Friday that the Board of Commissioners still might go through with the ULID. 

“They don’t have to make a decision, so they can wait as long as necessary, but the earliest they could address it is at their April 19 meeting,” Peterson said with confidence. “We have a lot of people responding with protests, but unless they get some of those large ag people to object, the District will be in a position to proceed.” 

Peterson sees ZImmerman and his clients issues as more ‘procedural issues’ which can be touched up.

“Those are easy to fix with a do-over, and sending out a new notice and basically restarting,” Peterson insisted. “Although not necessarily for frontage owners. The board has yet to read all of the objections and I still have to digest it.” 

Zimmerman was surprised when, amongst what seemed like heavy and clear opposition, the Board of Commissioners didn’t vote down the ULID. 

“I just can’t believe it,” ZImmerman said as he halfheartedly chuckled. “I just assumed there would be someone in favor, and no one was. Yet the board members were reluctant to do the right thing.” 

Peterson admitted that the Commissioners could have legally voted down the ULID, having had a quorum, but he would have been disappointed if they did so. 

“There are people who haven’t spoken yet, wait for 10 days to go and then sit down and take everyone’s input into consideration,” Peterson stated. “You risk leaving someone out of conversations and I’m a process guy, so I want to make sure everyone gets a word in.”

Property owners that are apart Bear Mountain Water District have till April 8 to file a written objection. Although a decision might not come until April or May, depending on the availability of the Board of Commissioners. 

If the ULID proceeds, Peterson said the next step is getting an appraiser to evaluate the parcels involved. 

Buckle up, this could be a bumpy two months if the district decided to proceed with the ULID. 

Zach Johnson can be reached at lcmeditor@gmail.com or (509) 682-2213

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