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County Commission Approves Husum Variance Agreement

Property owner works out agreement with Fish and Wildlife

On Nov. 22, a property owner near Husum was granted a shoreline variance to build a dwelling by the Klickitat County Board of Commissioners. The approval was contingent on an agreement between Clements and the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW).

In September, the WDFW had filed an appeal to the Klickitat County Planning Commission's recommendation for approval of the variance, which altered a setback requirement of 100 feet from Rattlesnake Creek and a buffer requirement of 150 feet from Indian Creek. The appeal was based on the agency's concern that construction of the residence, garage, driveway, and associated improvements on the Clements property could have potentially adverse impacts on fish and wildlife habitat. The habitat areas are protected by the county's Critical Areas Ordinance.

However, the agency agreed to drop its appeal if certain conditions were met.

Klickitat County Commissioner Ray Thayer called it "a good agreement" between Fish & Wildlife and property owner Mike Clements, but not all of the meeting's attendees were satisfied with the agreement.

Carol Turner, who owns property along Indian Creek Road, said she was unhappy that the commissioners approved the agreement.

"I'm very disappointed that it did not generate more rigorous discussion of their own (the county's) criteria. This sets a very serious precedent, and we're thinking very seriously of appealing the decision," Turner said.

Klickitat County Planning Director Curt Dreyer did not consider the decision a precedent.

"Each application is considered on its own merit," Dreyer explained.

The WDFW stipulations include:

Limit the total footprint of Clements' house and garage to no more than 4000 square feet;

Limit the size of the driveway into his house/garage to 12 feet total width, excluding the approach to a three-car garage and recreational vehicle parking space;

The driveway and its connection to the garage shall be hard surfaced to avoid silty runoff into nearby streams, and will approach directly from the county road without crossing the existing streams;

The existing improvements and structures will be completely removed from the area of the property south of Rattlesnake Creek and west of Indian Creek, and the area will be restored and planted with Oregon white oak, Douglas fir trees, ponderosa pine trees, cottonwood trees, and other native trees and shrubs;

Remove all of the non-native blackberry vines and bushes from the property, and chemically treat them as appropriate to prevent their return, and plant native vegetation that will discourage future non-native blackberry growth;

Retain mature oak, fir, pine, and cottonwood trees as much as possible while constructing the house, garage, driveway and its approach to the garage;

Cap the old, existing septic system to prevent further use;

Remove the structures and other materials described above and vegetation planting shall be completed within one year of the construction of the residence and/or garage, and that the vegetation plantings be maintained to ensure 80 percent survival after three years. Plants will be replaced as necessary to ensure their survival rate.

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