PASCO — Pasco might get a new affordable housing project for agricultural workers and their families, but the proposed development's neighbors aren't happy about it.
The Pasco Planning Commission discussed Thursday a comprehensive plan amendment that would allow Beacon Development Group to build a $10 million apartment complex north of Clark Street and west of Charles Avenue.
Gracie Chacon, captain of Charles Avenue's block watch program, said the seven families who live on Charles Avenue near the proposed project are concerned an apartment complex would add traffic and crime to their neighborhood. The families, who all attended the meeting, built their homes through the La Clinica Self-Help Housing program.
"It's just going to be a mess," she said. "I can see it already."
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The group of young families want to see other single-family homes in the area, she said. "We are just concerned with our children's safety," she said.
Beacon Development Group is asking the city to change the land designation for the two-block area from low-density residential to medium-density residential.
That change would move the housing limit from five units per acre to 20 units per acre, said Rick White, city community and economic development director.
Paul Purcell, president of Seattle's Beacon Development Group, said the company plans to build a complex of 51 units for agricultural workers and their families.
The density would be about 10.5 units per acre, he said.
The company 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. Bishop Topel Haven is under construction.
Pasco has a high demand for farm worker housing, Purcell said. Tepeyac Haven has a long waiting list of families who would like to live there.
Purcell said the development will be family-oriented.
He agreed the apartment complex would add traffic with 50 more families in the neighborhood. But he said after Tepeyac Haven was completed in 2007, crime and gang activity in that area actually decreased.
Commissioner Andy Anderson said Tepeyac Haven is "the best I've seen in the Tri-Cities," in terms of management. As the executive director of the Housing Authority of Pasco and Franklin County, Anderson said he's worked with Tepeyac Haven because some of the housing authority's Section 8 clients -- those who receive housing assistance -- live there.
Anderson said he understands the neighborhood's reservations about having an apartment complex next to them. But he said he feels the development would be an asset.
The planning commission will discuss what to recommend to the city council at its Jan. 20 meeting.
* Kristi Pihl: 509-582-1512; firstname.lastname@example.org