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Commission recap, 03/26/2019 Columbia Cliffs, Grant PUD agree to public shoreline access

Posted on March 26, 2019 by Public Affairs/Christine Pratt

Columbia Cliffs community, Grant PUD agree to public shoreline access

Grant PUD seeks to reclassify a 9-acre portion of Grant PUD shoreline property adjacent to the Columbia Cliffs community just north of Crescent Bar. The reclassification will allow the PUD to permit certain existing property uses appropriate for public use, including lawn and beach areas, commissioners learned Tuesday.

Residential property owners adjacent to Grant PUD shoreline property in the Columbia Cliffs area generally support the reclassification and are working with PUD staff to develop a plan to provide land-based public-access to the Columbia River shoreline through private property. Currently, the public can only access the shoreline by boat.

Under the policies included in Grant PUD’s Shoreline Management Plan, adjacent landowners must apply for a “non-project-use permit” which provides public access in order to preserve the lawns and some of the other alterations they’ve made over the decades to the Grant PUD shoreline.

The reclassification is one of four proposed substantive changes that Grant PUD will present for approval to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of the 2019 update to Grant PUD’s Shoreline Management Plan. The plan defines how Grant PUD will manage the shoreline lands associated with its operation of Priest Rapids and Wanapum dams.

The other three proposed changes would:

  • Clarify allowable uses of Grant PUD-owned property within the project boundary
  • Include a shoreline monitoring and compliance plan.
  • Revise the schedule for plan review to every 12 years, or as needed..

The updated plan does not change:

  • Compliance with license requirements related to dam operations, use and occupancy of project lands and protection of sensitive resources.
  • Grant PUD public access and use policies.
  • Shoreline management goals and objectives.
  • Process for issuing land-use authorizations.
  • Shoreline monitoring and compliance activities.

If approved as proposed, and if Columbia Cliffs’ permit is approved, existing lawns and beaches located on Grant PUD’s shoreline property would be designated “public property.” Other uses, such as personal property, will need to be removed from the Grant PUD shoreline. No further development will be allowed on PUD property adjacent to Columbia Cliffs, Shannon Lowry, manager of Lands and Recreation, told commissioners.

Grant PUD would post signs, visible from the river, along the beach areas that designate the area as Grant PUD property and define its public use rules.

“The difference between this and Sunland is public access,” Commissioner Larry Schaapman said, about another private development just downriver of Columbia Cliffs that has filed a lawsuit against Grant PUD over public access to adjacent Grant PUD shoreline. The adjacent property owners there chose not to apply for a public green space permit where irrigated lawns adjacent to private property previously existed, Lowry said.

The Columbia Cliffs shoreline is also culturally significant to both Grant PUD and the Wanapum, Lowry said. Keeping the shoreline in its current state minimizes potential disruption and allows for protection of sensitive resources.

The deadline to submit the plan proposal to federal authorities is April 18. (See Pages 29-41 of the commission presentation materials.

Commissioners also:

— Unanimously approved amendments to Grant PUD’s Customer Service Policy to add details of the new Rate Schedule 17 for evolving industry. The new rate will begin the first of a three-year phase-in April 1. (Pages 8 to 54 in the commission packet).

 — Unanimously approved a contract for the not-to-exceed price of $2.854.585 with Denver-based Stanley Consultants of (home base) to act as Grant PUD’s owner representative to oversee work on a bundle of seven to 10 construction projects. The projects, with a total cost of $40 million to $50 million, will improve and expand Grant PUD’s electric system improvements to address customer growth. The Red Rock Substation in Royal City is among the bundled projects. The design-build system will reduce construction time by two to three years compared to the traditional design-bid-build method. Work will begin this year and be finished in 2022. State law requires project owners to hire an owner representative as a condition of the Design-Build process. (Pages 56 to 83 in the commission packet).

— Unanimously approved a contract change order with Chicago-based Anixter, Inc., increasing the not-to-exceed contrat amount by $485,650 for a new contract total of $1,266,500 to buy additional transformers to meet anticipated customer load growth. (Pages 85 to 88 in the commission packet).

— Unanimously approved a contract change order with Tennessee-based Electrical Research & Manufacturing Cooperative, Inc., increasing the not-to-exceed contract total by $2,266,306 million for a new contract total of $3,244,454 to allow Grant PUD to purchase additional three-phase pad-mount transformers for years 2019 and 2020. The original contract underestimated the need for new transformers, given anticipated levels of county growth. (Pages 90 to 92 in the commission packet).

— Heard from Security Manager Fallon Long of the Security team’s outreach to Grant PUD’s many departments and communities in the vicinity of its projects to understand security needs. She described coming security upgrades to badge readers, which control employee entry, door locks and cameras. All Grant PUD buildings and yards and slated for upgrades.   (Pages 137-149 of the commission presentation materials).

 Next commission meeting: April 9 at Grant PUD Ephrata headquarters

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