ML Council votes to proceed with controversial Sagepoint development
Staff Writer | January 11, 2023 2:56 PM
MOSES LAKE — At the regular meeting on Tuesday, the Moses Lake City Council cleared the way for a controversial mixed residential development of single-family homes and townhouses on roughly 6.4 acres south of Sage Point Elementary School.
“This allows it to move forward,” said City Manager Allison Williams after the meeting.
The council voted on the Sagepoint Planned Development District – which will include 16 single-family homes as well as 19 townhomes on a private street – following a lengthy and complex approval process overseen by a hearing examiner. The process was required because CAD Homes, which hopes to build the development, needed approval for deviations from the city’s zoning code to construct the townhomes as part of a planned development district.
Under the city’s current zoning code most of the peninsula south of I-90 — including the 6.4 acres in question — are zoned R-1, which allows for as few as one residential building per acre and as many as four. Duplexes and multi-family homes are not allowed in areas zoned R-1; however, planned development districts, which allow for development that does not conform to strict zoning regulations, are allowed by the city’s zoning code.
“The PDD (Planned Development District) allows for modification of development standards, flexibility, increased density, lot width, depth reduction and irregular lot sizes,” said Community Development Director Kirsten Sackett.
Sackett told council members building townhomes would allow the city to provide more affordable housing to more people and would also meet a goal of using existing lots within the city for new homes – a process called infill.
“Infill development increases the production of housing,” Sackett said.
According to a presentation from Portland-based consultancy ECONorthwest at the beginning of Tuesday’s meeting, median home prices for Grant County – roughly $325,000, according to the Northwest Multiple Listing Service – are unattainable for nearly 70% of city residents, while typical rents are beyond the ability to pay for nearly half of all city households.
Nearby residents told council members they were concerned that the density of the development, the increased traffic, and responsibility for shared spaces in the townhome development would change the fairly slow and quiet nature of life in the neighborhood for the worse.
“R-1 should stay R-1. I don’t see why you should make exceptions in this particular area,” said Mark Trimble. “There’s plenty of property in Moses Lake.”
Drew Scott, one of the owners of CAD Homes, said the common areas of the townhome portion of the development would be managed by a homeowners association and would have to comply with all existing city ordinances.
“They work as well as you put into it. Some are well-managed. It’s easier for an HOA to trespass someone, ” Scott said. “But we’ve not worked out all the details of the HOA agreements.”
Following a hearing on Nov. 8, 2022, Hearing Examiner Andrew Kottkamp recommended the city council deny the creation of the planned development district, finding the development of closely packed townhomes would be inconsistent with the city’s zoning code and would set a precedent for future development “that would change the nature and the characteristic of residential life in the lower peninsula.”
The council, however, voted to reject that recommendation, and asked city staff to prepare an ordinance that would allow CAD Homes to go forward with the 35-unit development.
“We would like people to know their comments have been heard and not taken lightly,” said Council Member David Skaug just prior to the vote. “We’ve listened.”
Charles H. Featherstone can be reached at email@example.com.