Three-Story Project in Manchester Comes Before Hearing Examiner

County development staff have withdrawn their support of the Spruce House project.
By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com
PORT ORCHARD
Manchester residents had their say Thursday on a three-story development project some claim is out of scale and character with the town. Critics of the project say plans to accommodate stormwater are inadequate and pose a danger of flooding from site run-off.
Spruce House, a 54,777 square-foot residential-retail complex, was the subject of a public hearing at the county administration building. The complex is proposed on a .53 acre site at the corner of Colchester Drive and Spruce Street in downtown Manchester.
Spruce House is one of four projects allowed at three stories before a revision of the Manchester Community Plan in 2007 limited building height in the downtown area to two stories. The Anchors at Manchester is the only one of the four that has been built.
Plans by Gig Harbor developer John Park of BJP LLC call for 11 condominium units on two stories above 7,455 square feet of retail-office space and 19 parking spaces on the ground floor. There’s also a 40-space underground parking garage.
Written testimony the county received in an earlier phase of permitting showed a number of residents displeased with the size and appearance of the building. An Oct. 12 report from the county’s Department of Community Development says Park has made adjustments to the design in response. But the report raises issues with stormwater treatment and landscaping in its recommendation against approval of the permit.
The DCD had earlier recommended approval of Park’s application, said Senior Planner Dennis Oost, but staff withdrew their support in November, 2008, when neighbors of the proposed project complained drainage from the site would be directed at their properties.
DCD contends Park’s current plans don’t meet the county’s requirement that 15 percent of the project area be covered in landscaping. And a neighbor, whose garage encroaches on the site said the design would block his access, Oost said.
Resident Carrilu Thompson testified that flooding is a problem in the town, which is at the bottom of a hillside.
Planning consultant William Palmer said his client has proposed several stormwater alternatives. The preferred design would be to collect run-off and direct it via underground pipes to a county-maintained manhole on Spruce Street. From there stormwater enters a pipe with direct discharge to Puget Sound.
The pipe passes through private property, and the owner will not give permission for its use, Palmer said. He argues that since the county once owned the property is has a historic right to use the pipe and so could grant Park permission to use it.
Project engineer Nels Rosendahl said the pipe would have enough capacity to handle the added run-off from the site, even in the event of a “hundred year storm.” But Douglas Frick, the county’s manager of development engineering, said his department has not yet verified the capacity of the pipe. Nor have possible problems created by additional flow at the pipe’s outfall been addressed, Frick said.
Palmer listed several other alternative plans, one of which would direct stormwater from the site to a nearby creek. Another alternative required Park to get permission from seven other property owners, which proved prohibitive, Palmer said.
On the issue of landscaping, Palmer argued the project more than satisfies the county’s 15 percent requirement. By including plantings on the building itself, the total landscaped area is 4,083 feet or about 17.7 percent of the total site area, he said.
The report submitted by Oost states landscaping on buildings should not be counted in the total. But Palmer said precent for doing so was set by the hearing examiner’s approval of another three-story project in Manchester. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners overturned approval of Colchester Commons, but Park challenged that decision and prevailed on April 7 in Kitsap County Superior Court.
As for the easement issue, Park and his representatives are negotiating with the neighbor, who claims access to the site through historical use. They hope to come to a resolution, Palmer said. In the meantime, Park has filed suit to gain access. The neighbor has filed a counter suit.
The fourth three-story project, Manchester Place, at the corner of Spring and Main Street, is owned by Frank Tweten of Gig Harbor. He has until Oct. 6, 2011 to move forward before a preliminary permit on the project expires.

http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2009/sep/15/high-end-manchester-condos-struggling-to-sell/

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