Development hinges on rezone of parcel from commercial to residential
Alfred Fairbanks is ready to provide affordable, high-end housing in Pullman.
He envisions a lot of townhouses on the north side of town — conveniently located and without the hassles of downtown congestion.
“There’s a big interest in residential. The vision is to provide opportunity for housing, for growth,” he said. “I think it looks like a congested mess downtown.”
Groundbreaking hinges on a vote by the Pullman City Council.
Fairbanks, a Pullman dentist, has submitted an application to rezone an approximately 18-acre undeveloped parcel of land north of Terre View Drive on State Highway 27. Currently zoned commercial, the land would need to become residentially zoned for Fairbanks to see his vision come to fruition. The parcel is part of a 58-acre plot of land owned by Fairbanks, the rest of which is zoned for residential use.
Planning Director Pete Dickinson said the rezone process is simple enough. Any landowner can apply for a property rezone to the city planning department. The application is reviewed and forwarded to the Pullman Planning Commission, where it is discussed at a public hearing. The commission then makes a recommendation to the City Council, which will formally vote on the issue.
“Usually, it’s a one-two kind of operation,” Dickinson said.
When discussing the application, the planning commission will evaluate a list of requirements, including whether or not the rezone meets criteria in the zoning code, adheres to the city’s comprehensive plan, and if it is compatible with surrounding land uses.
Areas north of town “would be an appropriate place for low-density housing,” Dickinson said.
Fairbanks said he first considered developing the property for commercial use, but businesses seemed uninterested.
“It looks like most of the commercial (development) is going on on the south end of the town,” he said. “(People) don’t want to compete with development on the south end.”
Now, Fairbanks said, he’d like to meet the demand for housing. He anticipates the growth of Washington State University and high-tech businesses in the area, such as Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, to increase the need for housing. The townhouses would more than likely be two-bedroom residences with garages large enough for two cars.
“Parking’s a big (issue),” Fairbanks said.
Once developed, students would not be recruited as potential residents.
“Our feeling is that ... (professional) people are not looking for apartments. They’re looking for very well done (residences with) granite, that type of thing,” he said. “We think that overall, it’s good for the city. That’s part of the vision.”
Dickinson agreed there’s a need for housing in town.
“I think that we’re going to continuously have a demand for low-density housing in the community,” he said.
Dickinson said the city also needs retail space.
He said the land originally was zoned commercial to encourage business development along the highway and “to balance it, so people who lived on the north side wouldn’t have to go all the way down Grand Avenue to satisfy their shopping needs.”
If the council allows the rezone, Dickinson said he would suggest the city extend its urban growth area — land that surrounds Pullman and is expected to eventually be annexed — to replace the commercial land lost in the rezoning.
Dickinson said there is land north of town that could potentially be used for commercial purposes.
The public hearing in front of the planning commission is tentatively set for March 28. Dickinson said the planning department will not make a formal suggestion on the rezone until the week of the hearing.
Saturday, February 17, 2007
"Pullman: Landowner wants to build high-end housing north of town"
Now here's even more good news from today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News: Affordable, low density, family housing with none of the nonsense of "smart growth."