Manzanita hears ‘Pocket Neighborhood’ proposal

In a meeting with the Manzanita Planning Commission representatives from City Center Development Partners, LLC presented their pre-application for a ‘Pocket Neighborhood’ near downtown Manzanita.

By Brian Cameron
Presenting their pre-application was Nate Palmer and Scott Imholt, of City Center Development Partners, LLC, and though they are keen to point out the project is just in its beginning phases, the two were both excited for the potential their idea for a pocket-neighborhood held for Manzanita.
“We are hoping the approval process will finish up by September but we do know these kinds of things can take time to work through,” said Palmer. “If that happens on schedule we hope to begin selling homes around a year from the site approval.”
A Pocket Neighborhood is “a type of planned community that consists of a grouping of smaller residences, often around a courtyard or common garden, designed to promote a close knit sense of community and neighborliness with an increased level of contact.”
The term Pocket Neighborhood was first coined in 1995 from a team of architects who designed a housing development on Whidby Island on Washington’s Puget Sound called The Third Street Cottages, they were created to take advantage of the community’s zoning in regards to double-density housing, in that case the homes had to be less than 975 square feet, so the first Pocket Neighborhood was devised.
The project created by City Center Development Partners focuses on a smaller community feel with only a maximum amount of 26 separate homes, though if the Planning Commission has anything to say about it that number could be reduced to around 23.

The Planning Commission’s findings
Among a number of changes to the pre-application the Manzanita Planning Commission met with Palmer and Imholt to go over a variety of concerns over the application that they wanted to company to address.
“Frankly, I’m a little disappointed in what the Planning Commission had to say,” said Palmer. “I’m not entirely sure the city understands what a pocket-neighborhood is, I know these plan development phases can be a give and take process which we are open to as we move forward.”
Palmer was referencing the litany of focal points that were under scrutiny within the pre-application meeting including issues of parking area for the homes, street realignment, sticking to the short-term rental clause as well as a fair amount of concern over the water table of the property. By and large the biggest criticism was over parking however. Currently the plan calls for 1.5 spaces of parking per unit, which goes against the City’s Comprehensive Plan of the required amount of two per house.
“Our thinking on the parking issue is this, because the homes are so small they don’t adhere to the normal aspects of the Comprehensive Plan,” said Palmer. “We are hoping this requirement can be relaxed due to the nature of our proposal.”
Among some of the aspects of the pre-application proposal the Planning Commission did like were the proposal’s focus on green solutions and sustainable living practices. According to the actual proposal the company plans on building two separate model units as the infrastructure for the other houses is complete. One of the houses will be outfitted with ‘significant green technologies.’
Currently Palmer’s company partner Scott Imholt is acquiring his licensing for solar roof installation using the newly rolled out Tesla Solar Roof shingle system, a product that looks dramatically more appealing than previous roof mounted solar systems. In addition to the solar roof they hope to also install the units with the new Tesla PowerWall battery units. In addition to in-home technologies there is also a plan to put an electric car charging station which is planned to be open to the general public as well. Other additions may include FCS certified wood for framing, finishes with high post-consumer recycled content, upgraded window and insulation values, improved air tightness and heat recovery ventilators, all LED lighting and composting toilets.
One aspect of their development that Palmer pointed out is that even though their homes don’t classify as “affordable housing” criteria, the size and nature of what they are aiming for will be priced much cheaper than what is averagely available in Manzanita.
“From here we are going to regroup a little and see which direction we need to go,” said Palmer. “We’ve got a lot to process but I hope the Planning Commission sees things a little differently in what we are trying to do.”
By the end of the meeting Manzanita City Manager Jerry Taylor addressed the Planning Commission and reminded them that things like the parking and much of the verbiage in the Comprehensive Plan can be augmented if the Commission gives each aspect close attention. The next meeting is scheduled for September to look at a revised version of the pre-application.