Kennewick staff, planners to review density proposal

Kristi Pihl, Tri-City HeraldJune 3, 2014 

Though some Kennewick residents told the Kennewick City Council they don't want apartments built on 10 acres near Lawrence Scott Park, the city didn't shut down the developers' proposal.

The council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to send the request from Jose Chavallo, Bateman Family Properties and Wendell Bateman to city staff and the city planning commission to be considered as part of the annual comprehensive plan amendment review.

The developers' request is to increase the density of the housing allowed from low density to high density.

The property is on the southeast corner of North Kellogg and North Lincoln streets and West Quinalt Avenue, near the Port of Kennewick's Vista Field Airport.

Some neighbors told the council they didn't want to see apartments there. A few said they could live with single-family homes or duplexes, although city staff said duplexes can't be built in low-density residential areas.

And one Kennewick resident said the property owners should be allowed to develop the property, and if neighbors want to dictate what goes on it, they should buy it and develop it themselves.

Chavallo does not have a specific plan, but told the Herald wants to create a project that will complement the Port of Kennewick's plans for redevelopment of Vista Field, which includes a mix of uses including residential, office, retail, commercial and public spaces.

In 2012, Chavallo proposed building quality housing for disabled veterans on the 10 acres. But the city council denied his request and sent it back to the city planning commission to consider a change to medium-density residential. Chavallo withdrew the request. Last year, the city council declined to place a request for a density change on the docket for review.

Mayor pro-tem Don Britain, who voted against reviewing the proposal along with Councilman Bob Parks, said not much has changed since the last two times the property owner asked the city to change the density, as the port hasn't even finished a master plan for redeveloping the former airport. A better land use would be medium or low density, they said.

But Councilman Bob Olson vehemently disagreed. "When are we going to get our heads out of our backsides?" he asked.

Olson said development is going to happen in that area of town and it's time to bite the bullet.

Councilmen John Trumbo and Greg Jones said they want to have the proposal considered.

The proposal will go to city staff and then to the planning commission, which will hold a public hearing on the density change in August. The city council likely will consider whatever the planning commission recommends in October.

Even if the comprehensive plan amendment is approved, the property owner would still need to apply to get the zoning changed.

Also Tuesday:

-- The city council unanimously approved changing the zoning for the former Vista Field Airport from public facility to commercial, regional.

The city council already approved a comprehensive plan amendment that allowed the zoning change to occur.

-- Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; kpihl@tricityherald.com

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