Bad economy endangers 18-lot subdivision in Sequim, developer says

SEQUIM — Everett developer Gary Krumwiede has one more chance to begin construction on an 18-lot plat of middle-income Sequim duplexes before he and his more than 30 business partners face the prospect of calling it quits.

Under state law, development of the subdivision must begin within five years of approval.

A sour housing market forced Krumwiede to ask the Sequim City Council at its Monday meeting for the second of two yearlong preliminary plat extensions for which he is eligible on the 3.2-acre parcel 300 feet south of the Still Road-East Washington Street, he said Tuesday in an interview.

The council unanimously granted the extension. The first extension was granted in March.

Infrastructure

Under state law, infrastructure such as roads must be built and housing construction started by the end of 2010, Krumwiede said.

The housing market is “impossible,” Krumwiede said, adding that buyers seem more interested in purchasing foreclosed homes rather than those newly built.

“I haven’t seen a downturn like this,” he said. “We’re just exploring things as we go. I was happy the city of Sequim was sympathetic and understanding. We’re not some big corporation that’s moving in from somewhere.”

The plan is to build duplexes on each lot that would cost a buyer under $230,000 for the land and a house, Krumwiede said.

The council also directed city staff to work out a compromise on fire truck access with Clallam County Fire District 3, which says a temporary cul de sac should be built, though Krumwiede told the council that “won’t work there.”

More developers might be applying for preliminary plat extensions, “given the economy, and the way it is,” council member Susan Lorenzen said at the council meeting.

“We could be going beyond five years. That might become a reality.”

In other action, the council:

• Unanimously granted a one-year extension to the four-lot Cummins/Clark minor subdivision on the northeast corner of Sill Road and Fox Fire Lane. It’s the first of two extensions that can apply to the subdivision.

• Discussed City Council-city staff communications guidelines “highlighting some of the ways we can be more effective in terms of our roles,” City Manager Steve Burkett told the council.

Under state law, council members are prohibited from giving direction to employees but can ask questions, Burkett said Tuesday.

“I’ve heard some issues that maybe it happened in the past,” Burkett said Tuesday.

• Accepted a discussion list of nine possible roles for Sequim Speaks, a council-appointed, 15-person citizen advisory group.

Council members suggested group members seek input from the community on priorities rather than coming directly to the council.

“They need to reach out into their quadrant neighborhoods,” said Mayor Pro Tem Ken Hays, filling in for Mayor Laura Dubois, who was absent because of illness.

Acquire state land

The council went into closed-door executive session before returning to vote 5-1, with council member Paul McHugh opposed, to begin negotiating with the state Department of Transportation to acquire public-facility-zoned state surplus land on U.S. Highway 101 at Simdars Road.

It was McHugh’s final vote after eight years on the council. His successor, Don Hall, will be sworn in by the next council meeting on Jan. 11.

“I do not think the city should be in real estate speculation,” McHugh said after the meeting.

In November 2008, the City Council turned down a proposed Transportation rest stop at the 5-acre site.

Transportation transferred $3 million for the project west on Highway 101 to Deer Park near Port Angeles, but by then, it had received “credit” for city water and sewer hookups to the site and to cover the impact on water and sewer services to the city, Burkett said Tuesday.

In exchange, the city received land where the city public works shops are now located.

The council also doubled the purchasing power of the city manager from $15,000 to $30,000 per expenditure without needing approval from the City Council. The expenditures would be for already budgeted items, such as emergency water main repairs.

It honored outgoing council members McHugh and Walt Schubert with plaques, huge goodbye cards signed by city staff and two frosted cakes.

Schubert, on the council since 1999 and the city’s mayor from 2002 to 2007, was defeated by retired lawyer Ted Miller in the Nov. 4 general election. McHugh did not seek re-election.

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Staff writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-417-3536 or at [email protected]

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