Decision on townhouses stalled

Under the advisement of city attorney Craig Ritchie, the Sequim City Council pushed back a public hearing regarding a binding site plan for Oak Grove, a development project of 48 townhouses. Ritchie asked that the council delay the public hearing until May 27. By then the council will have bid offerings regarding a possible sewer expansion.

Although the council directed staff to move ahead with gathering bids for the project, the council can choose to forgo the expansion project entirely, putting proposed development projects such as Oak Grove in jeopardy. According to Ritchie, the city must investigate whether it has the capacity to handle the addition of more residential and commercial projects or if it will have to tell developers, “No.”

The Sequim Planning Commission on May 6 in a 6-0 vote recommended Oak Grove’s site plan to the city for approval. Planning commission chairman Larry Freedman recused himself from the discussion, saying that he is personally involved in the project. Freedman is a business partner of Allen Grant of Grant Realty, the developer behind the project.

The 48-unit townhouse project would be built on a 2.41-acre parcel located on Fifth Avenue between the Boys & Girls Club and the Sequim Aquatic Recreation Center. The townhouses already are being marketed as workforce housing. According to Grant, a base unit is estimated to go for $139,900. Asked whether he foresaw the cost increasing due to rising construction costs, Grant said he hoped the project would be completely sold out even before a shovel was in the ground. Despite the fact the site plans have yet to be granted approval, developers placed an advertisement for the proposed townhouses in local newspapers to generate interest and according to Grant, they already have 30 reservations. Many of the interested parties are nurses, police officers and teachers.

“I think it would be wonderful for the community. Young people can’t afford a home in Sequim,” resident Debbie Parnell said. Parnell’s daughter and son-in-law are among the 30 reservations. “I would say to someone opposing this, ‘Where are you living?’”

Grant does not yet own the property. The property is owned by the Sequim School District and it will be sold only if and when the council grants site plan approval. According to school district superintendent Bill Bentley, the school district could not do anything with the small parcel. If sold, payment for the land will be used toward a new transportation facility for the district.

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