Chelan County had a population of 81,500 in 2023 according to data from the State’s Office of Financial Management. Of this number, 33,875 residents live in the unincorporated areas of the county and 47,625 in the cities. According to data from the state, Chelan County’s population is expected to grow to 89,022 by 2035, an increase of 9 %. With this growth will come more development of land for residential, commercial, and industrial projects.

Two state statutes provide the framework and basis for planning and development decisions by the cities and Chelan County. The first is the State’s Growth Management Act (GMA).

The GMA sets forth 15 planning goals to guide local jurisdictions in developing their comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances, as well as making decisions on individual land use projects. Highlights of the goals include:

  • To encourage development in urban areas where adequate public facilities and services exist or can be provided in an efficient manner;
  • To reduce sprawl;
  • To encourage efficient multimodal transportation systems;
  • To encourage the conservation of productive forestlands and productive agricultural lands, and discourage incompatible uses; and
  • To plan for and accommodate housing affordable to all economic segments of the population.

In addition to the Growth Management Act, the State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) is of major importance in guiding the development of land as well as the adoption of comprehensive plans and zoning ordinances. SEPA rules direct local agencies to:

  • Consider environmental information (impacts, alternatives, and mitigation) before committing to a particular course of action.
  • Identify and evaluate probable impacts, alternatives, and mitigation measures, emphasizing important environmental impacts and alternatives (including cumulative, short-term, long-term, direct, and indirect impacts).

Taken together the GMA and SEPA provide the framework for local government planning, zoning, and decisions on development projects.

RC3 reviews potential development projects and proposed regulatory changes within Chelan County and its cities that are likely to be impactful to residents to ensure that they properly comply with GMA, SEPA, and other requirements.  When appropriate, we bring these to the attention of the public to provide an opportunity for local citizens to add their voices to the evaluation process and provide comments either to us or to the appropriate government agencies.  In this way, we can help ensure that your values are reflected in the way that Chelan County grows in the future.