Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Old Cutters project gaining ground

Hailey P&Z allows 'detached townhouses'


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

Development of the Old Cutters subdivision in northeastern Hailey caught a big break on Monday when Hailey Planning and Zoning commissioners gave the proposed project's backers a green light to move forward on several aspects of their overall subdivision plan.

On a 2-1 vote of the commission, several text amendments to Hailey's zoning and subdivision ordinances were approved. The amendments were proposed by the developers of the Old Cutters property.

The amendments, which still must gain the approval of the Hailey City Council before they take effect, would allow for the construction of what are called "detached townhouse units." Such units could be built in all areas of Hailey that currently allow townhouse construction.

As they relate to the text amendments, detached townhomes are essentially freestanding housing units that range in size from about 600 to 1,200 square feet and are also called "cottage houses." The freestanding units are proposed as a major component of the overall affordable housing plan for Old Cutters.

Patterned after similar developments that have been built in the Seattle area and in surrounding Pacific Northwest communities, up to 27 cottages in the Old Cutter subdivision would be clustered around central courtyards or community common spaces in four smaller "cottage developments" within the larger Old Cutters subdivision.

Speaking before the P&Z commissioners Monday, John Campbell, a co-owner of the Old Cutters property, said the detached townhouses would provide an affordable housing option for those homebuyers who may not wish to purchase and have to maintain a larger home.

With their front porches facing common green spaces and nearby cottages, and only 10 feet separating the sides of the homes, a sense of community would be promoted in these cottage developments, Campbell said. "You end up with more neighbor interactions," he said.

Although many of the detached townhouses would be built as affordable, deed-restricted housing units, some would be sold as market-rate homes, Campbell said.

Although each townhouse unit would be placed on just 3,000-square-foot lots, the overall density of the cottage developments wouldn't be any greater than standard townhouse developments, he said.

"It's an efficient use of land resources," Campbell said.

Not all of the audience in attendance during Monday's meeting was in support of the detached townhouse concept, however. In general, comments against the text amendments cited too much added density, a lack of character for that part of Hailey and snow storage questions.

In the end, however, their comments didn't sway P&Z commissioners Elizabeth Zellers and Nancy Linscott, both of whom voted to approve the text amendments. The other commissioner in attendance, Stefanie Marvel, was the lone dissenting voice.

In a related matter, the commissioners did vote unanimously to approve the preliminary plat application for the Old Cutters subdivision. The plat essentially subdivides the Old Cutters property and creates 116 separate lots.

The Hailey City Council agreed on March 15 to annex the property.

In the overall scheme of things, the proposed detached townhouse units would only be a small fraction of the larger subdivision. The rest of the project would be composed of traditional single-family homes and a number of duplexes.

As currently proposed and tentatively approved by the P&Z on Monday, the subdivision would be made up of 149 single- and multi-family housing units on the 116 lots.

The City Council will likely consider both the text amendments and final plat approval for the Old Cutters subdivision sometime in late September, Hailey Planning Director Kathy Grotto said.




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