WENATCHEE — The city is growing, but space is limited.
To help meet the need for housing, Wenatchee is updating its code. The idea, said Community Development Director Glen DeVries, is to diversify housing types while still providing for predictability both in the look of neighborhoods and in the development process.
The 148-page draft update is available at wwrld.us/2ZxJcXU.
DeVries said the code updates don’t involve changing zones but rather uses and site planning for each zone.
“It gives specific guidance on the new range of housing types and how those fit onto the site and what the development standards are for them,” he said. “It goes to another standard that’s more compatibility-oriented for residential design standards, like how a building fits in a neighborhood, what it looks like, how it relates to the street, making sure that there’s light and air and open space around it.”
The city and Makers Architecture and Urban Design held an open house last week — the fourth in the last year — regarding updates to the housing code.
Other public meetings are planned over the next couple of months, and the comment period ends Oct. 2. The City Council is expected to vote on the code in late October.
Bob Bengford with Makers said townhomes are one housing type that stands out to him.
“Right now, they fall under multifamily, but there’s really nothing in the standard to address that unique housing type right now,” he said. “The new one, we have a new definition for it. We’ve added it in the permitted use chart and we’ve added new standards for it.”
Tacoma Street neighbors Diana Fine and Tom Riehle were among about 20 people who attended last week’s open house.
Riehle, who already owns several properties on the street, said he found out about the proposed changes while going through the permitting process. He’s especially concerned about the possibility of single-family homes no longer being allowed in the residential high zone.
“I hope that we continue to have the ability to have a single-family dwelling in the high-density zoning just like we’ve been able to for 100 years,” he said. “It’s probably longer than that because the house across from me is more than 100 years old, I think. By, all of a sudden, the stroke of the pen taking that away from us doesn’t feel very good. ... We understand that they want higher density, but we didn’t choose to be in the high density.”
Fine said she’s owned her property for over 20 years and wants her rights protected.
“Because (Riehle) went in there — serendipity — the rest of us find out about this,” he said. “I’m like, ‘So if my house burns down, I cannot rebuild?’ And I was told yes.”
DeVries, Wenatchee’s community development director, said that was an oversight and the draft was changed before last week’s open house.
The draft now allows for existing single-family homes to be rebuilt in the residential high zone. Whether single-family homes could be built there in the future is still being explored, DeVries said.
For more information on the housing code update, including a list of upcoming meetings, visit wwrld.us/2Hb5vZ1.