Pateros Council rejects changes to municipal zoning code

“What have we done for you? I think that was how you put it.”-Brad Wilson

Pateros City Council members have decided against pursuing a Pateros Planning Commission recommendation that would've rezoned a portion of the existing business district.

The planning commission recommended changing the zoning in the area north of the intersection of Riverside Drive and Dawson Street, between Lake Pateros Rentals and the Pateros city shop. That area is zoned commercial industrial, which allows industrial and mechanical uses, including the auto body shop, auto mechanics shop and machine shop/foundary there now. The planning commission recommended eliminating that and expanding the central business, which doesn't allow those uses.

Mayor Gail Howe appointed council members George Brady and Mike Thurber to look at that recommendation and others made by the planning commission. At the regular council meeting Monday, Aug. 18, Brady said they went back and looked at the city's comprehensive plan and decided that the change made no sense, at least not right now. If property owners on that street want to make those changes, they will come to city officials, he said.

Brady said they also looked at the planning commission's recommendations for minimum lot size, and don't think those changes make much sense either right now. They might make sense 20 years from now as the Pateros area develops, he said, but not now.

City officials also have been talking about establishing an urban growth boundary (the projected limit of development for the foreseeable future). It doesn't have much impact now but it will start being important when Okanogan County reaches a population of 50,000 and as a result comes under the provisions of the Growth Management Act. Planning commission members were among those suggesting a large UGB, possibly as far south as Alta Lake and Rectorville.

City officials also discussed that, Howe said; the city's planner, Kurt Daneson, recommended something smaller, the Pateros School District boundary on the north and the Methow River to the south. Thurber said he knew there was interest in annexation someday at Alta Lake, and he thought some of those possibilities needed more study. But Brady said it's a question of knowing the town's capacity; city officials need to ask if it's reasonable to think Pateros could ever provide the necessary services to Alta Lake or Rectorville. If that changes, city officials can make changes to match, he said.

Council members voted to pay the $1,000 fee for 2008 for the North Central Washington Drug Task Force, but said they'll have to review a request to increase the fee.

Task force operators haven't officially increased the fee, but they have asked participants to consider increasing their payment, said Brad Wilson of the Okanogan County Sheriff's Office, who's in charge of the task force. Federal funds pay for a substantial chunk of task force operation, and those funds will be cut for 2009. Funding cuts have meant staffing cuts which has reduced the caseload, Wilson said.

He was at the meeting to answer questions from Pateros city officials; "what have we done for you? I think that was how you put it." He said the task force investigated one case in Pateros last winter, which was not resolved, and currently is investigating one in the south county. Wilson said there was no way to tell how that one would turn out.

Howe said she got a good response when she contacted the task force directly with information, but that she couldn't seem to get an answer when she talked to the sheriff's deputies on regular patrol. Wilson said he gets more calls from citizens than law enforcement officers; officers get busy and forget to pass things along, or are focusing on current investigations and don't follow up the leads. He said people should keep calling, and provide whatever information they can; more information is always better.

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