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3/27/2013 10:06:00 AM
River Bend Drive homeowners worry about KOA expansion
Ian Dunn
Editor

The River Bend Park Association has some concerns about the proposed annexation of the KOA into the city of Leavenworth. At a Dec. 11 public hearing on the proposed annexation, River Bend Park Association (RVPA) Co-President Michael Cleghorn said the RVPA Board was prepared to support the annexation, believing the annexation can serve as a vehicle to solve some legacy issues that have impacted the quality of life of the RVPA community.

RVPA Board member Joe Aponik said they will not endorse the petition the way it stands. Primarily, the homeowners are concerned about the use of River Bend Drive to access the KOA, which lies at the end of the road. Aponik said use of the road for residential and commercial purposes is incompatible.

"The statement we made is we see this as an opportunity to work with the city and KOA to create a permanent longstanding solution to the problems that have been well documented, including legal action in the past," Aponik said.

Up to this point, the RVPA has tried, unsuccessfully, to hold the KOA accountable for expanding beyond the limits of its Chelan County conditional use permit. Aponik said they have been expressing their concerns to the county, requesting the alleged violations be enforced.

The county has responded the last couple years, he said, with repeat violation letters requesting the KOA come into compliance in a number of areas.

"There was a legal action which specifically addresses how it impacts the road. That is really our main issue," he said. "When you look at the use, whether county or city, it is incompatible. This is one of the few campgrounds in America that sits at the end of a small residential road."

The traffic has gotten worse over the past 10 years, particularly as the campground has expanded, said RVPA Board member Bill Converse.

"It's gone from 140 campsites to just over 200. That's a 60 percent increase in the amount of campsites, and also an increase in traffic," Converse said. "In the last five, 10, 15 years, some of these campers have grown to a pretty good size. You're talking about 40 foot campers zooming down the road.

"They've been on the road quite few hours and want to get to their destination as quickly as possible. They are not concerned about residential."

Aponik said there may have been only a couple residents on River Bend Drive when the KOA was established more than 30 years ago. But the vision for the park then certainly differs from the way the KOA is being operated now, he said.

The position of the RVPA Board, Aponik said, is this is now the time and place to remove all commercial traffic from River Bend Drive. The group favors closing the River Bend Drive entrance to the park and creating a new one behind Safeway.

The annexation plan actually calls for another entrance into the park behind Safeway. Aponik said this is a good plan, however there is nothing that states that would be the exclusive entrance to the park.

"You could certainly require they change the entrance-exit," Aponik said. "If you look at the municipal code, under tourist commercial, recreational vehicle. You cannot use a residential road to access an RV Park under the city's municipal code. I don't know what the plan is moving forward, but this seems to be a major conflicting point."

New residential housing is planned along the stretch of the new road. Leavenworth City Council members had expressed concerns, if that road was made the primary entrance, future residents would have the same issue as the RVPA.

Converse said the new road is planned for mostly commercial, so the traffic impact would be minimal. And any major impact would be many years down the road.

"They assessed this when they put in the Safeway," Converse said. "They did all this through the Growth Management Act. They plotted where to put the road. It's going to be multi-family and commercial."

RVPA is actively communicating their concerns to Leavenworth city officials, Converse said. Initially, Aponik said they were seeking the city take note of the conditions in the county conditional use permit in the annexation agreement. But he said they were told the city does not care what the county has done.

The city's permitting process would only affect future operation or growth. That was a concern to the RVPA.

"We oppose the petition as it is currently stated. It is our hope through making clear, logical points that are supported by some legal precedents, that we won't have to have lawyers involved and we won't have to go through a long drawn out process," Aponik said. "We hope talking to KOA and the city we can get an amicable resolution."

Future growth at the park is going to happen anyway, Converse believes. All the RVPA wants is a new access road developed. Aponik said everyone should agree the road is a public safety risk at present. It will continue to be that unless something changes.

"We can understand what the city and KOA has to gain from annexation and rezone, growth opportunities," he said. "We are not opposed to that at all. Change the entrance. Then, if you put in a big operation, it doesn't change the neighborhood."

Ian Dunn can be reached at 548-5286 or editor@leavenworthecho.com.





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