SEQUIM — The first phase of a proposed 103-unit housing development near U.S. Highway 101 tentatively will break ground this summer on Brownfield Road.
The Sequim City Council unanimously approved the major subdivision Bell Hill Estates on Monday to allow Bill Barnett of Barnett NW Enterprises LLC of Tenino to construct the homes.
They’ll consider finalizing the project at the council’s June 26 meeting after seeing its findings of fact, conditions of approval and special conditions of approval.
The project’s lots range from 6,000 square feet to just over 12,500 square feet in the three phases on 25.66 acres between the highway and Miller Road.
The first phase would include 26 homes adjacent to Brownfield Road, while the second phase would mean building 38 homes in the middle of the property. Phase 3 would bring in 39 homes.
Charisse Deschenes, assistant to the city manager, said that Barnett wants to begin immediately and finish the first phase within a year.
Neil Latta, engineer for the project, said Barnett’s preliminary plan expired last July and with the new application, they added phases for smaller builds that are “more palatable for market conditions.”
Tentatively, Phase 2 would begin in spring 2018 and the third phase in spring 2019, Latta said.
In recent months, nearby residents have voiced various concerns about the project ranging from traffic concerns to density.
Deputy Mayor Ted Miller said he was surprised there weren’t more traffic provisions in place because of the amount of homes going in, but Sequim City Engineer Matt Klontz said that even after doing a growth project to 2035, that still wouldn’t be a sizable issue because the road’s traffic is so light.
Deschenes also said while the project is large, it’s not too dense for the city because it averages 5.8 dwellings per acre, which falls into the city’s rule of allowing four to eight dwellings per acre in the Comprehensive Plan.
Some city residents and council members also wanted provisions to protect the Roosevelt elk herd that travels through the property.
Deschenes said the city requires a habitat management plan only if a species is threatened or endangered, which the elk are not.
She said a study provided by Barnett said the acreage makes up 0.1 percent of the herd’s priority area, so “the proposed development won’t adversely affect them.”
Latta said they discussed a corridor for the elk but it wasn’t feasible.
“We’re building the property in accordance with the zoning and density but not trying to create a corridor for wildlife in that context,” he said. “We felt it’s not safe or feasible to create that avenue for the elk.”
The city’s reports on the project said the site holds no significant archaeological finds or environmental issues, such as wetlands, on the property.
Bell Hill Estates would feature new sidewalks along Brownfield Road and a walking trail on the west side of the development from Brownfield to Miller Road.
Latta said it’s highly probable the path would be made public.
Residents also expressed concern about the lack of sidewalks on Miller Road and in the area, but Deschenes said as the area develops, roadways and sidewalks will be improved and ideally be better connected.
The property’s plans also said its stormwater area will be fenced but the city doesn’t require fencing along the homes to improve aesthetics.
For more on the project, visit www.sequimwa.gov and search for “Bell Estates.”
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gazette reporter Erin Hawkins contributed to this report.