Original 12-lot proposal increases to 19-lot, but fewer dwellings

The Planning Commission held a public hearing for and approved a 19-lot residential subdivision for townhouses during the Feb. 21 meeting. The 1.47-acre property (to be called Madelyn Meadows) is located between Walker and Wassom streets, east of Stoltz Hill Road.

The commission had approved a 12-lot subdivision at this property during the Jan. 19, 2022 meeting, with lots containing single family homes or townhomes. The proposal under discussion this month was a modification to the original design to contain townhomes and only one single family home, and included several variances.

A proposal previously approved by the planning commission in 2022 reveals a 12-lot subdivision that could provide up to 20 dwellings.

The original design could include up to 20 dwelling units (a lot with a single family home can be a duplex), whereas this design can only include up to 19 dwelling units. Community Development Director Kelly Hart said the private street proposal remains the same, and a condition of approval included the requirement of a shared driveway between lots.

“That is to make sure that the lots have a consolidated driveway to open up on-street parking on the private road, to maximize the amount of parking that is provided within the subdivision itself,” Hart said.

She noted the city received two letters of opposition to the proposal, summarizing the concerns to center around increased density, increased traffic, lack of parking and concern for child safety given small backyards.

Udell Engineering’s Laura LaRoque noted that each townhome will have a required garage and driveway, which provides a total of two parking spaces per home, and there will be 19 additional spaces available on the streets (nine spaces on the private road, seven spaces on Walker and three spaces on Wassom).

Commissioner David McClain pointed out that one of the letters of opposition included the suggestion that it’s likely some or most of the garages will end up being used for storage instead of parking.

During the public hearing, Wassom Street resident Sandra Ragan spoke on behalf of herself and her neighbors opposing the proposal. She spoke of their understanding about the inevitable growth of the city, but stressed what they believe should be “healthy growth,” which included consideration about an increased burden on public services as well as an opportunity for current homeowners to provide input on how that growth should look.

The proposal up for discussion at the Feb. 21 meeting reveals a 19-lot subdivision that consists mostly of townhomes, providing up to 19 dwellings.

She added they were able to “get their heads around” the original 12-lot proposal, but the change to 19 lots was “a big concern.” She added that traffic on Wassom Street is so bad already that families no longer allow their kids to play out in front of their homes. However, she was unable to make her opposition based on anything in the proposal that violated the city development codes.

Commissioner Don Robertson clarified that the responsibility of the commissioners is to make sure all development codes are being adhered to, and they are not allowed to make decisions based on personal preference. As such, the commissioners agreed all legal requirements have been met or justified.

In other business, Hart reported the current legislature session includes the consideration of SB 1537, which she feels confident will likely pass, adding it “is absolutely going to affect us.” She specifically pointed out “mandatory adjustments” that are written into the bill. Developers, she explained, will be able to request up to 10 distinct adjustments per project. If they meet the density threshold for the city (any project over six dwelling units to the acre), the city must honor the mandatory adjustments, she said.

Some of them include: 10% reduction in side and rear setbacks, 25% reduction in open space, parking minimums, 10% reduction in lot size and 10% increase in lot coverage.