Testimony filled more than 10 hours and spilled over to a second day at a public hearing on a proposed affordable-housing development in the Dishman-Mica area.
More than 100 people turned out Friday for the hearing. About half returned for its completion Monday afternoon.
Most who turned out opposed the zone change request, which would allow for much denser development in the neighborhood, including apartments, duplexes and triplexes.
The non-profit Northwest Regional Facilitators, with the help of developer Jim Frank, is seeking a zone change and preliminary plat approval for a 13.5-acre plot south of 16th Avenue and east of Dishman-Mica Road.
Working together, they hope to turn 11 acres into a 100-unit affordable housing complex called “The Village in the Valley.” The project would include a mixture of homes, row houses and apartments, most of which would be owned by those residing there.
An adjacent 3-acre plot, owned by Patrick Lettenmaier and Marie Coon, would be developed into about 67 additional multi-family units.
The area’s current Urban Residential 3.5 zoning allows for single-family homes only, not to exceed 3.5 homes per acre.
County senior planner Stacy Bjordahl has recommended Dempsey approve the proposal, if the applicant agrees to limit new buildings to two stories, and maintain a 20-foot wide corridor of existing trees on the southern boundary. This corridor would buffer existing homes on 18th Avenue from the newer, denser construction.
Dempsey will make his decision by mid-April.
Opponents of the zone change said they aren’t prejudiced against the poor, they simply don’t want to see so many homes and apartments built on such a small piece of land. Although the development would include two common “parks,” those parks, they argued, are smaller than most of the surrounding neighbors’ yards.
Land-use consultant Scott Brown, who was hired by neighbors opposing the zone change, argued that the proposal doesn’t conform with the county’s zoning code and comprehensive plan.
Frank admitted this is true.
“There’s no question we’re asking for some deviations,” Frank said. “They’re essential. The zoning code provides for (this).”
Frank and other Village supporters told Dempsey it is getting increasingly difficult for non-profit groups to create low-income and affordable housing opportunities. Reducing the Village’s proposed density of 12 units per acre would make it “impossible” for the project to succeed, they said.