The West Richland Planning Commission agreed Thursday night to recommend a zoning change to allow 22 townhouses for seniors to built on Bombing Range Road.
The request is for a change from medium density residential to multifamily on two lots in the area of Holly Way and Bombing Range.
Initially, neighbors were worried they'd soon be living next to a large apartment complex.
"I didn't want to see apartments with absentee landlords. Property deteriorates quickly when people don't care," said Joyce Hankins, who lives on Holly Way, across from the planned townhouses.
Davin Diaz, who lives just north of the lots, also was concerned.
"There were no plans on file for me to see and 84 units sounded like a multi-story apartment building. I didn't want to see that in our neighborhood," he said.
Diaz also worried about the impact on the schools.
"I was concerned about my two young children and what their classrooms would like in a few years with overcrowding," he said. For those reasons he circulated a petition in the neighborhood, gathering 59 signatures.
But after Thursday's meeting, Diaz and Hankins said they were more comfortable with the project after hearing the details from the owners of thelots, Kaleem and Zarfshan Ullah, and Mian A. and Nahida A. Haq, all of Richland.
The lots, with a combined area of five acres, are between the Benton Fire District 4 station and the Islamic Center of Tri-Cities, of which the Ullah and Haq families are longtime members.
The West Richland City Council changed its comprehensive plan for those lots in 2008 from medium to high density, Thaniel Gouk, the city's associate planner, said before the meeting.
Now the owners are looking to develop and need to have the zoning ordinance changed to move forward, he said.
"Hearing the development is targeted for senior citizens makes me feel a lot better," said Hankins.
Diaz agreed. "I feel better knowing there will be only 44 families. Knowing that, and that it's being developed for senior housing, I support what they're doing 100 percent."
Ahmad Qayoumi of Pasco, a friend of the Ullah and Haq families, explained, "This will be a high quality development with a clubhouse. The design of the buildings will be compatible with the homes in the surrounding neighborhood."
"This has nothing to do with apartments or multi-story buildings," Ullah said. "We are not big developers. We've owned the land for 16 years and want to build adult retirement homes and plan to live there ourselves."
"We want a good relationship with our neighbors and if they have concerns we want to address them," Ullah said. "What we're planning will really benefit the city by bringing in more taxpayers."
Next, the issue goes to the city council on June 5.
-- Loretto J. Hulse: 582-1513; email@example.com