The Pasco Planning Commission shouldn't have based its decision about a comprehensive plan change on a developer's plans to build an affordable farm worker housing project.
The Pasco City Council unanimously sent the application for a $10 million affordable housing project back to the planning commission Monday with a request to take Beacon Development Group out of the decision process.
The Seattle company asked the city to change its comprehensive plan designation from low-density residential to mixed residential for property north of Clark Street and west of Charles Avenue.
The company needs the density changed in the comprehensive plan so it can submit the zoning change application that would allow it to build an apartment complex, said Rick White, city community and economic development director.
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The 51-unit complex would be owned by Catholic Charities Spokane. Beacon Development also built Tepeyac Haven, at 915 N. 22nd Ave., and Bishop Topel Haven, at 1534 E. Spokane St. Both are Catholic Charities Spokane affordable farm worker housing projects.
The planning commission recommended approving the change to the comprehensive plan in January, but a group of single-family homeowners who live on Charles Avenue appealed the commission's decision.
The council heard the appeal Monday as a closed-record hearing, which meant it could only base its decision on the prior testimony and information the planning commission received.
Changing the density in the comprehensive plan doesn't mean Beacon Development Group will build there, Councilman Al Yenney pointed out. Anyone could.
The question that needs to be considered is whether the density should be changed in the city's comprehensive plan, said Mayor Matt Watkins.
"Having a specific developer in mind seems to have muddied the process," Councilwoman Rebecca Francik agreed.
Francik said she also wanted the planning commission to consider why the city's comprehensive plan valued dispersing special needs housing, such as low-income housing, within the city.
There are duplexes owned by the Housing Authority of the city of Pasco and Franklin County to the east of the proposed density change, she said.
Francik said she'd likely have to support the amendment to the comprehensive plan because it does fit the city's criteria of providing a buffer between commercial areas and single family residential areas.
But first, the planning commission will take another look at the proposal.
-- Kristi Pihl: 582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org