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Othello adopts new street standards for residential development

by CHERYL SCHWEIZER
Staff Writer | July 21, 2021 1:00 AM

OTHELLO — Othello City Council members on July 12 adopted new development standards for the street widths in new residential areas in Othello, reducing them from 40 feet to 36 feet.

The city updated its public works design standards in April, but a decision on residential street width was postponed.

Street width in residential neighborhoods was a subject of some contention during the adoption process.

A 40-foot street width for residential neighborhoods has been the standard in Othello, and the Othello Planning Commission recommended staying with that. City engineer Shawn O’Brien said city staff recommended a narrower standard to the council’s water-sewer-street committee, which adopted the staff proposal for submission to the council. Developers will have the option to make the streets wider, but 36 feet will be the minimum width.

O’Brien said the design standards call for arterials, which accommodate a lot of traffic, to be at least 48 feet wide. Roads that connect residential areas with arterial streets, called collectors, must be at least 42 feet wide.

O’Brien said narrower streets provide some safety benefits, since people don’t drive as fast.

But council member Corey Everett voted against the proposal, saying it was unpopular among Othello residents. The city’s traffic collision rate was part of the design study, and Everett said about 20% of collisions in the city are drivers hitting parked cars. He said he didn’t see how narrower streets would prevent that.

Council member Angel Garza recused himself and sat in the audience during the discussion.

Council member John Lallas said he was in favor of the proposal, as long as it applied to residential developments with one-way in and one-way out. Streets leading to and from developments and accommodating more traffic should be wider, Lallas said.

Council member Mark Snyder said he was in favor of the narrower street standard as a method to slow down drivers. He said he was amazed at how fast some people drive through residential neighborhoods.