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Snowden `Echo Glen' rezone appeal verdict still on hold

County commissioner put off decision until January.

Although approximately 35 people showed up to hear the decision, the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners decided to put off a determination on an appeal of a Snowden rezoning case until January.

At a Dec. 19 hearing at the Lyle Lions Community Center, the commissioners said they needed more time to study the "Echo Glen" case before making a ruling on the appeal.

"There was some information that came out in the appeal that I wanted to take another look at," said Commissioner Don Struck. "There were a couple of procedural issues that I was concerned were not done properly."

At issue is whether 80 acres of property owned by Louis Huszar and historically used as a pear and cherry orchard, can be rezoned from "extensive agriculture and forest resource" to "general rural" and sold as five-acre parcels.

Snowden's comprehensive plan currently provides for 20-acre minimum parcels. However, on Aug. 24, 2001, the Klickitat County Planning Commission voted 5-0 to approve Huszar's rezoning application.

Within two weeks of the county's decision, the Snowden Community Council unanimously voted to file an appeal.

Struck said it is typical for the commissioners not to make their decision at the time of the appeal.

"Since it's a quasi-judicial process, we can deliberate in private if we wish to, and ask for clarification from those involved. This is not something we want to make a snap decision on. It's better to have a chance to deliberate on it."

Struck said the commissioners would issue a decision on Jan. 14.

Some of those opposed to the proposed rezoning were unhappy with the postponement, and questioned the motive behind it.

"I was disappointed with the delay," explained Brad Bookmyer, a Snowden-area resident who attended the hearing in Lyle. "It's a way to defuse the issue. They didn't want to make a decision with 30 people sitting there."

Bookmyer added that he wants the county to listen to the residents.

"I'm against the proposed rezoning, and I'm a real estate agent," said Bookmyer.

Chris Connolly, president of the Snowden Community Council, was disappointed for a different reason.

"About 35 Snowden residents showed up, but only two Community Council members were allowed to testify, for five minutes each," she said. "They just decided to not decide until Jan. 14. We're just waiting on what they decide."

Connolly said she expected more delay.

"My predication is that they're just going to remand it back to the Planning Department, and have them fix their procedural errors," Connolly explained. "If they just grant the rezone, we'll probably take it to Superior Court, but that's not a decision the Community Council has made yet."

Attorney Ron Reynier represented the Snowden Community Council before the commissioners.


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