Chelan County is officially on board with the city of Leavenworth's plan for denser housing in its Urban Growth Area. 

County commissioners initially rejected the city's proposal, but the state Growth Management Hearings Board overrode the county's decision after an appeal by the city. 

Commissioners voted 3-0 to adopt Leavenworth's plan this week, with Commissioner Tiffany Gering expressing reluctance. 

"This is begrudgingly," said Gering,  

Commissioners think denser housing will strain existing infrastructure in the area and alter its rural feel. 

Kevin Overbay also made it clear they were approving of Leavenworth’s plan against their will. 

“This is something that we are being forced to do by the Growth Management Board under the Growth Management Act," said Overbay. "So, I think we're all probably holding our nose on this one." 

The state Growth Management Hearings Board ruled the county did not comply with established policy when it rejected the city's plan for more dense housing last year. 

Leavenworth, in 2022, called for smaller minimum lot sizes in its Urban Growth Area (UGA) in an effort to achieve greater housing density. 

The hearing board's ruling will allow the city to reduce minimum lot sizes from 10,000 or 12,000 square feet to 8,000. 

Leavenworth has been trying to create affordable housing and more density is seen as a key element in doing so. 

The Hearing Board said the county violated the Growth Management Act in its rejection of the city's plan. It also said a 1997 agreement known as a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Chelan County and five cities (Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Chelan, Cashmere, and Entiat) required the county to approve Leavenworth's zoning plan inside the UGA. 

The Growth Management Act (GMA) is a series of state statutes, first adopted in 1990, that require fast-growing cities and counties to develop a comprehensive plan to manage their population growth. 

Urban Growth Areas exist under the GMA as areas where urban growth shall be encouraged and outside of which growth can occur only if it is not urban in nature. 

UGA's lie in unincorporated county areas. 

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