Richland officials Wednesday signed an agreement with Nor Am Development LLC that makes concrete a plan to develop about 1,500 acres of land south of Badger Mountain during the next 20 years.
"This is kind of a big deal for the city of Richland," said Deputy City Manager Bill King. "It represents a milestone in the city."
The development agreement puts in place legal requirements for how the land will be developed -- density, design standards and other details to ensure the development proceeds as planned.
Larry White, managing partner and co-owner of Nor Am, saidthe requirements were ones the company welcomed.
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"This was not imposed on us by the city," said White, of Tacoma. "This is something we worked on together."
The development is expected to include 5,000 homes, parks, schools, 150 acres of commercial development and a wine village.
The project has been years in the making and has gone through several versions before developers and the city arrived on the plan.
The concept is intended to include housing at a range of pricing levels and density levels -- apartments, townhouses, and small, medium and large single-family homes, White said.
"The city did not want this to be an exclusive area of McMansions," he said. "We are going to have a very broad mix."
He said the development also will be oriented so that people who live there can walk to parks, schools and shops.
Walkability and sustainability were important concepts for Nor Am when designing the plan, he added.
"A lot of subdivisions' main purpose when they get designed is to slap up houses and get them sold," White said. "This is too big for that. ... This is a project we all feel will be a contribution to the region."
Rick Simon, the city's development services manager, said the next step toward building is to install sewer lines, for which the developer is footing the entire bill.
Simon said the sewer line plans are being reviewed by the city's Public Works Department.
Loren Combs, the attorney who spent years working out the plan with the city, said the company hopes to start building homes later this year or in early 2012.
"It has been a long haul to get to this stage," he said. "There's a long way to go ... but we're under way."
-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; firstname.lastname@example.org