Hillside development studied
A proposed development at the edge of Liberty Lake is facing an uphill battle.
A hearing commissioner will decide Wednesday whether to recommend a 24-home development on a steep 24-acre site at the south end of the city, next to Liberty Lake Road on a hillside below Legacy Ridge.
But city officials and some residents are concerned that the land is too rugged and steep to hold homes, roads and appropriate storm water drainage.
“It’s the severity of the site that has made it a challenge,” said Liberty Lake planning director Doug Smith. “It’s not something we do on a regular basis. That’s why we’re looking at it with a critical eye.”
The development, known as the Liberty Lake View Estates, would feature larger homes and space them out in a less dense arrangement, said developer Brian Main.
“It’s quite a bit less dense than what people are accustomed to out there,” Main said. “You could end up with three houses to the acre, but we’re looking at about one or two to the acre.”
Smith said he has been working with Main and his engineering team to solve problems, and any recommendation that comes from the hearing examiner will likely include stipulations.
Main said his engineering firm has addressed the problems and that the development will be constructed safely and up to code, and 40 percent of the land will be left as open space.
Main developed the MeadowWood addition in the 1990s, and said this will be a different project.
“MeadowWood is not the look we’re looking for,” he said. “We’re looking more for a natural feel and to keep some of the more natural look to it.”
Nothing will be more natural to Tom Brattebo, who lives outside the city limits near the lake, than leaving the hillside intact. The Legacy Ridge development just upslope from the 24-acre parcel has reshaped the hill, he said, and he’s afraid it will happen again with Liberty Lake View Estates.
“They remade the mountain in the shape they wanted, and they’ll do the same here. I’m confident they can,” Brattebo said. “It’s only a matter of time until all of the area as far as we can see is houses and roads.”
The land is currently filled with trees and native plants that hug the hillside next to Liberty Lake Road. A group of citizens who live around the lake has expressed objections to the project, but feel helpless because they are not residents of the city.
“It’s frustrating and it’s really sad to get the feeling that the citizens of the area don’t seem to be really too concerned other than just the small, same old bunch,” Brattebo said. “The people that are questioning it are all pretty much outside the city limits. Where are the city folk?”
Main said that he originally planned to designate 48 lots but instead will ask for 24 for the project, which will keep the quality high.
“Bigger lots mean bigger and nicer houses,” he said. “We’re looking for something a little different.”