Feedback to shape stock plan program

Port Townsend, Jefferson County work toward building designs

PORT TOWNSEND — The Jefferson County Planning Commission with two members of the Port Townsend Planning Commission is seeking feedback in the coming months as both the city and the county work to develop a repository of stock plans for new housing construction.

Several plans already have been submitted to the Jefferson County Planning Department, which will take the lead on the project. Which plans will be accepted are yet to be determined.

Emma Bolin, the city’s planning and community development director, told the Port Townsend City Council on Tuesday that the county was taking the lead in researching stock plan programs that have worked for other cities but that the city has committed two of its own planning commission members to the county for the purpose of deciding which stock plans to accept.

“During the months of September, October, we will be spending a lot of time directly engaging through Housing Solutions Network as well as a couple of realtors and brokers to see which designs are popular,” Bolin said.

The county already has received 34 proposed design plans from local companies, most of which are for accessory dwelling Units, or ADUs, but which also include single-family homes and multifamily units.

Pre-approved plans would be purchased directly from the designer, many of whom offer hourly rates to make any changes a builder may want or need.

By providing pre-approved plans, both the city and county hope to make the building process easier and spur additional housing construction. The city has a fee schedule laid out for building permits and other fees in an effort to simplify cost projections.

The city updated its zone code earlier this year in an effort to make the construction of ADUs and multifamily housing easier within city limits. But design fees and permit acquisition remain barriers for a lot of prospective builders.

The stock plans would still come with building permit and other fees, but with pre-approved plans, those costs would be mostly laid out, removing some of the financial guesswork from the building process, Bolin said.

Design plans can cost between 8 percent and 12 percent of a project’s valuation, Bolin said, and even higher for multifamily housing. Pre-approved stock plans also would not have to be re-checked by officials as the plans had already been vetted.

The county will approve its own set of pre-approved plans, Bolin said, but the city also can adopt additional plans that fit within the city’s own regulations.

Stock plans that have been submitted to the county are available at the Jefferson County Planning Commission website at co.jefferson.wa.us.

Bolin said the feedback will help determine which of the stock plans community members would be interested in purchasing.

Members of the public can currently send feedback to the city or county by emailing Bolin at ebolin@cityofpt.us or Jefferson County Community Development Chief Strategy Officer Brent Butler at bbutler@co.jefferson.wa.us.

Which plans will ultimately be accepted will be decided after Oct. 29, when 2021 codes from the Washington State Building Code Council go into effect. Those codes were supposed to go into effect in July, but the code council delayed their effective date.

The formation of the joint planning committee and first meetings will take place in early October, Bolin said.

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Reporter Peter Segall can be reached at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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