Density, other issues remain before final approval by town
The Twisp Planning Commission has given preliminary approval to a proposed 10-unit townhouse development on Highway 20 adjacent to the Blackbirds complex, including conditions that could affect the project’s design and size.
Final approval by the Town of Twisp will be dependent on the developers meeting requirements adopted by the Planning Commission after a public hearing on the proposal last week. Those include conducting a cultural resources assessment, reaching accommodation with the Methow Valley Irrigation District (MVID) over encroachment on the district’s irrigation pipe easement, and addressing the excessive housing density on the site as currently proposed.
Property owner Craig Bunny and developer Carla Smith of Everett-based Diversified Design submitted a proposal for a 10-unit planned unit development of townhomes — nine two-bedroom units and one three-bedroom unit, with a total of 24 parking spaces — on a .56-acre parcel directly east of the Blackbirds building on the north side of Highway 20 where it intersects with Twisp-Winthrop Eastside Road. According to the submitted plan, about 30% of the site would remain in open space. The application was submitted to the town planning department in February of this year.
According to a staff report by Town Planner Kurt Danison, the proposal is consistent with the town’s applicable zoning of commercial riverfront, which requires a planned unit development (PUD) process, and meets other requirements. However, Danison noted, the proposal exceeds the allowable density, which would limit the development to eight townhouse units. “The number of units will have to be adjusted prior to final approval or the applicant will need to request and receive a variance from the density standards … or acquire additional .5 acres of property,” Danison said in his report.
The town received several comments related to the proposed development before last week’s public hearing. In his report, Danison reviewed and responded to them, including compliance requirements from Okanogan County Fire District 6, Twisp Public Works Director Andrew Denham, the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Methow Valley Irrigation District.
Danison said that nearly all the citizen comments requested that a prohibition on nightly rental of the proposed townhomes be part of the approval process. Danison said that the town can’t place additional restrictions on such developments if they aren’t allowed under existing code.
Earlier in the week, the Twisp Town Council imposed a six-month moratorium on conversion of existing housing to overnight rentals, including properties in commercial zones, while the town considers possible changes to how it regulates overnight rentals.
Other residents expressed concerns about proposed access to the site and related design issues.
At last week’s meeting, Mark Edson, a director of the MVID, said the proposed PUD conflicts with the irrigation district’s easement for its pipeline. “It runs over the top of our irrigation line,” Edson said.
Danison attached a long list of conditions for final approval including addressing the density issue, and the Planning Commission — at the urging of commission member Jasmine Minbashian — added one of its own: that the site undergo a cultural resources review because the area was inhabited by the Methow tribe. Minbashian asked that a cultural review be included “out of respect” for historical tribal activities in the area.
Danison said that local tribes had been contacted as part of the PUD application process about the need for a cultural resources survey, and none had requested one.
The staff report’s conditions also require that the developers work with the MVID to resolve the irrigation line issue. “That’s between the developers and the MVID,” Danison said.
Final approval of the project will be subject to action by the Town Council.