Application before Planning Commission
The Twisp Planning Commission will conduct a public hearing on the proposed Orchard Hills Planned Development on Feb. 8, following several postponements while the developers’ application was revised.
The commission had originally scheduled a hearing on the proposed 52-unit development on what’s familiarly known as “schoolhouse hill” in July 2022. It was subsequently postponed to August and then September, and then indefinitely until the proposal was resubmitted for planning staff review.
The delays and resubmittal came after the original determination that the project would have no significant environmental impact was appealed. After the town received comments objecting to the non-significance finding, that finding was withdrawn and “a list of items that the applicant must address in order for the Town to issue a mitigated determination of non-significance” was provided.
In a public notice last week, the town issued a new “mitigated determination of non-significance” based on the revised proposal, concluding that the Orchard Hills development “will not have significant adverse impact on the environment.”
According to the resubmittal’s executive summary, comments received earlier were reviewed and considered in the reapplication, and incorporated where appropriate. The plan has been revised to incorporate only roads that meet the town’s design standards, the document said.
The Orchard Hills development, submitted to the town in May 2022, is proposed by Palm Investments North LLC of Winthrop, of which local contractor Jerry Palm is listed at president. The development is on the site of an old, abandoned orchard, some of whose trees are still scattered around the property. It is on the bench to the west of downtown Twisp, which is also the site of the former Allen Elementary School.
The revised proposal calls for 52 residential lots of 3,630 square feet to 8,903 square feet and three open space tracks on approximately 17 acres. The open space would cover about 6.8 acres, or 40% of the development.
Palm Investments owns the property, and intends to build out the development with what the application describes as “single-family low-density” housing. According to the application and revised SEPA checklist, the developers hope to start construction this year and complete the buildout in three phases.
Addressing a need
Developers Jerry and Julie Palm cited the critical need for affordable housing in the Methow Valley in the original Orchard Hills application.
“We believe that part of the solution is increasing the supply of developable land within our incorporated towns,” the application said. “Twisp is a logical location for additional housing because of the availability of existing infrastructure, the proximity to employment and social services, and the availability of transportation options.”
“We believe that the Town of Twisp will benefit from the increased supply of modestly-sized single-family residential lots,” the application continued. “The compact neighborhood will be an attractive alternative for those who desire living in a close community with natural amenities nearby.”
According to the resubmittal, the Palms have been in contact with the Methow Housing Trust, “and although an agreement has not been finalized, it is anticipated that they will be procuring 10 of the lots” for housing.”
Preliminary approval by the Planning Commission may include additional requirements for the developer to meet before final approval is considered. After the Planning Commission gives it approval, the proposal moves on to the Town Council for final review and approval.
The Planning Commission hearing will be at 5 p.m. in the council chambers at the Twisp Civic Building. Instructions to join the meeting online will be posted on the town’s website in advance of the hearing at townoftwisp.com.
All submitted documents related to the proposal can be found at www.townoftwisp.com/news_detail_T2_R7.php. The documents also can be reviewed at the Civic Building during regular business hours, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Written comments must be submitted to the Town of Twisp, P.O. Box 278, Twisp, WA 98856, no later than 5 p.m. on Feb. 8. Comments will also be heard at the public hearing.