WENATCHEE — Approval of the Black Rock Terrace foothills development was reversed Friday in Chelan County Superior Court.
Judge Travis Brandt ruled that a city of Wenatchee ordinance that provides protection for wildlife habitat should have been applied to the home development when Hearing Examiner Andrew Kottkamp approved the project in December 2018.
Brandt’s decision hinged on whether the site should be considered a critical habitat area.
Developers Steven and Tanya Tramp submitted their application with the city in 2017 to add 17 homes to the property located on the 1700 block of Skyline Drive. At the time, the city didn’t have any language in its comprehensive plan protecting animal habitat.
The city’s critical area ordinance defines fish and wildlife habitat conservation areas as places used by species of local importance — in this case, mule deer, which use the 13-acre site during winter forage.
Black Rock was approved in December 2018 by Kottkamp who, among other findings, found the Tramps used best available science — information found on the city’s website — in determining the site wasn’t a habitat conservation area.
Brandt ruled to the contrary, stating that the city recognizes in its own critical areas ordinance that the mapping provided online is for information and illustrative purposes only and not regulatory.
“Best available science” should come from the state Department Fish and Wildlife, Brandt said, which has said the 13-acre site is indeed a critical area for mule deer.
Fish and Wildlife and a group of Wenatchee residents formally protested Kottkamp’s decision in January, filing separate appeals in superior court.
In June, Brandt heard two hours of testimony from attorneys for Fish and Wildlife, residents and the Tramps.
While the development has been brought to a halt, the project could be approved in the future if the Tramps are able to comply with the ordinance, Brandt said.
Steven Tramp could not be immediately reached Monday for comment.