Hayden Homes seeks to increase commercial space near Kennewick development

More land near a controversial development could be turning commercial.

Hayden Homes wants to have the future land use of 3.6 acres it owns at the northwest corner of the future Rachel Road-Steptoe Street intersection changed to commercial zoning from its current low-density residential designation. The city already approved 12 acres on the southwest corner for commercial development.

The property is near Hayden Homes’ 132-acre Clearwater Creek subdivision now under construction. The property is also expected to be home to a future Kennewick School District elementary school.

The Richland Planning Commission plans to discuss the change at its meeting at 7 p.m. Oct. 28in city council chambers. The city council has final approval.

The commercial portion was included in Hayden Homes’ original 2013 application, but was separated from an environmental review by city officials, according to city documents. The city wanted to see what the commercial development’s traffic impact would be, but later found no significant impact.

The property is considered neighborhood retail, which is intended to serve the immediate area. City staff recommended approving the request, saying the growing area has a need for commercial development. They also said buffers can be created between neighboring residents when it goes through the rezoning process.

The Clearwater Creek development faced challenges as it worked its way through city government in 2014 because of its proximity to the Amon Creek Natural Preserve. Some of the concern was eased because of an agreement between Hayden Homes and the nonprofit Tapteal Greenway that will leave 12 acres of open space along the preserve.

But the two area landowners who left comments about the commercial development were not pleased. Rebeca Montreuil said the request appears to be underhanded.

“The homeowners at Meadow Springs Heights paid a premium price for their land which backs up to the protected environmental area,” she said. “Commercial property will bring noise, congestion and bright lights. Who is going to reimburse us for the loss we are sure to encounter because we now back up to a commercial property? The vote should be no.”

Also proposed is an eventual extension of Rachel Road between Steptoe Street and Leslie Road.

The neighborhood retail designation could allow for a grocery or convenience store or restaurant on the site, said Rick Simon, Richland development services manager. He did not know if Hayden Homes would develop the property itself or sell it to another developer.

“Hayden Homes has not brought forward any specific plans,” he said.

Hayden Homes could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

Geoff Folsom: 509-582-1543; gfolsom@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @GeoffFolsom