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Snowden Tackles Rezoning Issues

Meeting is Feb. 5

After more than two years of work, the Snowden/Burdoin Community Council is nearing a decision on how to update the area's comprehensive plan and where to rezone portions of the acreage under the council's jurisdiction.

"The fundamental aspect of the map has been approved, but it's still a moving target," said Louis Huszar, chair of the Community Council.

The council will meet on Feb. 5 at the Cherry Lane Fire Station to hear from residents and property owners about the proposed zoning changes. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

Huszar pointed out that the council has held meetings over recent months and taken extensive public input on the proposed rezoning.

"We also did a community-wide survey and digested the community's responses," Huszar said. "That's one way of getting a picture of what the community wanted."

Approximately 25 percent of residents responded to the survey, which was sent to nearly 600 residents and property owners within the council's boundaries.

"Public opinion is an important component of this," Huszar said.

According to Huszar, the Snowden/Burdoin Mountain sub-area has not created a new comprehensive plan since 1979.

The map of proposed zoning changes shows that all the potential changes are located in one area, which comprises 580 acres of what would be "general rural" zoning with five-acre minimum lot sizes.

The overall area under the council's jurisdiction encompasses about 33,000 acres.

"Virtually all the land proposed for rezoning will go from generally 20-acre minimum lot sizes to five-acre minimum lot sizes," explained Dotty DeVaney, a land use consultant the Snowden council has contracted with to help develop the rezoning plan.

The lands proposed for rezoning are currently zoned as "extensive agriculture," "forest resource," or "open space."

"Proper planning says you have to give residents something. We don't want to shut the door to new residents, but at the same time, due to water issues, we have to keep it modest," said Huszar.

According to Huszar, the council is looking at making changes based on three key factors.

"There are three things driving this -- a building inventory report, a survey of the residents, and water availability in Snowden that everybody is concerned about," Huszar explained. "Because of those three constraints, we decided to be conservative about the amount of land for rezoning."

DeVaney said the draft zoning map reflects the wishes of local residents.

"The general map is consistent with the responses and the need for additional housing based on the buildable land study," DeVaney explained.

The survey was conducted over a two-year period, DeVaney added.

"In the survey, people wanted development to take place, if it does, closest to White Salmon as possible," Huszar said. "The overriding factor was, let's proceed cautiously, so as not to get ahead of ourselves. There is no reason to do anything on a grand scale."

DeVaney pointed out that with any zoning plan, there are divergent viewpoints about how the map should be changed.

"Even some of the council members are saying, `we have to put people somewhere,'" she said. "Others say, `we don't want any upzoning (decreasing of lot sizes).'"

Huszar said people are free to come to Snowden council meetings and offer their views of the proposed changes.

"The public is welcome to attend any and all meetings," he said. "Their input is certainly welcome."

When the Community Council finishes with its plan, the documents will go to the Klickitat County Planning Department for review. The county has the final say on any proposed comprehensive plans and rezoning decisions.

"All we can do is make a recommendation to the Planning Commission," Huszar said.

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