Enumclaw will not experience a flood of new houses | Letter to the Editor

On June 23, 2015, there was an article in The Courier-Herald indicating that approximately 400 homes were approved to be built in Enumclaw.

The recent Courier-Herald article could be misunderstood by our community to believe that there is immediate major growth coming to Enumclaw in the near future.

Chris Searcy, our city administrator, explained at the June 24  Community and Economic Development committee meeting that in 2015 he expects approximately 25 homes to be permitted and built and approximately the same number in 2016. As of July 1, there are only about 41 available buildable lots available to be built in the city of Enumclaw.

Searcy explained that it often takes years to turn approved subdivision maps “paper lots” into actual real estate lots. Builders need to get equity, financing, purchase the land and then get a permit prior to a residential land development. The only new residential subdivision development built this year and being built on at this time is the Sun Top 2 subdivision Phase B which has about 45 improved lots. The city administration explained to the CED committee that they do not have other developers lined up to bring more actual lots on line prior to 2017. Administration recommended approval of the preliminary plats to our committee and the recent plats proposed meet city requirements. The city could have liability if they were not approved by council.

The 2015 comprehensive plan will set guidelines for the next 10 years so it is important that we get the updated comp plan done right so in the future we preserve our historic rural charm.

About 25 homes being built this year is modest residential growth.  Our committee has worked together since 2014. The year prior to 2014 there were about four new homes built. Also, the year prior to 2014 there was no new construction for commercial/industrial permits issued. This year we have applications or permits issued on approximately 55,000 square feet of new industrial/commercial construction, in several projects, that will create jobs in our community.

One of the objectives of the community and economic development committee is to have reasonable quality development to help pay for our city’s costs. About three years ago the deficit the city had was about $600,000 a year. We have been able to cut the deficit approximately in half. The way you do that is being disciplined with cutting expenditures, as well as having a little bit of growth for revenues.

As a Community Economic Development Committee we have stressed to the administration and mayor that we would like to see larger lots and more space between the homes.  We also have emphasized that we need to have gated senior communities for active seniors, as well as other housing for seniors so that we can take care of our aging population into the future. We’ve asked for quality construction to be implemented into the comprehensive plan. We have also asked for the administration to come up with incentives for employers to come and create living-wage jobs in our community.

We do want to preserve our small town community charm. Our community outside of our city limits has approximately 5,000 acres on about 190 parcels in which the county has bought the development rights for agriculture preservation. These parcels and large amounts of land will not have subdivisions built on them and will be preserved for farming through the farm and ag program. This preserves our farming history and legacy.

Recently, as a result of the initiative of Councilman Overland, we passed as a council the Food, Beverage and Agriculture Committee resolution to form a committee to help promote this industry. If you are interested in working on this committee please get in touch with one of us.

The Growth Management Act does require our city to address minimum growth standards for job creation and housing to be able to qualify for federal and state grants in order to remain viable as a city.

Modest growth is needed to be able to continue to help pay for the costs of the city. The community is not exploding with growth at this time; what you are seeing is a modest amount of homes being built after years of no growth. The comprehensive plan of 2015 will address the issue of having enough land to meet the minimum state requirements for growth of jobs and housing. We are looking to balance that with preserving our small-town charm.

If you have any questions regarding the information in this article please give one of us a call.

 

 

Darrel Dickson, City Council Position 2, chair of CED Committee since January 2014

Hoke Overland, Enumclaw City Council Position 7, CED member since January 2014

Juanita Carstens, Enumclaw City Council Position 5, CED member since January 2014