Northwest Nitros, Yakima County at odds over zoning, permitting

A Northwest Nitro Nationals competitor looks down on the crowded gathered at Dry Creek Recreation north of Sunnyside for the May event.

SUNNYSIDE — Organizers of the annual Northwest Nitro Nationals Pro Hillclimb are looking for the community to support their effort to expand and improve the racing and recreational venue north of the city.

Organizer Tony Andreas emailed a letter to The Daily Sun on June 12, asking area residents to write letters of support of the event’s efforts at Dry Creek Recreation Area, at the intersection of state Highways 24 and 241.

At issue is county zoning and permitting.

Yakima County Commissioner Rand Elliott said the annual competition has been taking place for eight years without proper zoning and permits.

“They’ve been asked to comply,” he said.

Dry Creek Recreation Area is zoned for agricultural use, Elliott said.

If a re-zone of the property is approved, he said the property owners would need permits for all the work and construction already completed there.

“They also have building and code violations,” Elliott said, noting the issue is not new. He said property owners and organizers of the annual competition were told in 2017 they needed to apply for a re-zone and comply with county codes.

“They were told not to host the event that took place a month ago,” Elliott said, noting that because the event took place, there are code violations.

“It’s our job to uphold the law,” Elliott said.

Andreas declined to comment on the issues Elliott brought up.

Rather than focus on the dilemma, Andreas pointed to event’s success, increased tourism and the economic contribution the venue makes to the Lower Yakima Valley.

If all goes well, Dry Creek will add another race and the popular Pirate’s Plunder obstacle event later this year.

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