City Contemplates Sale of Surplus Property

by jhwygirl

Held in the Public Works Committee, from the July 25th meeting, is the recommendation by the City Engineering department to sell two properties that were acquired as part of the right-of-way for the recently completed England Boulevard extension.

The two properties are now 100 feet long by 47 feet in depth,having lost 53 feet to the new road.

The sale of these two parcels is being held because councilman Jerry Ballas – with a concurring agreement from Ward 2’s Bob Jaffe – think that looking into the possibility of utilizing the parcels for affordable housing is worthwhile.

Bravo to both of them.

The two properties are sandwiched between the Grant Creek Town Center (the shopping centers directly across from Lowes and Costco) and Pleasantview subdivision – in an area with some county zoned parcels (commercial and rural residential – yep, rural residential III) and mobile homes.

The problem as I see it is that the R-IV zoning – which allows for residential and even multi-family residential – has setbacks that will take up most of the depth of the property – a minimum of 20 feet for the front setback and a rear yard setback of 20 feet. That leaves a 7 foot wide buildable area. That’s not going to work.

Maybe I read that wrong. Here’s what the city zoning code says for front and rear setbacks in the R-IV zone:

19.40.030 Front yard. There shall be a front yard having a depth of not less than twenty (20)
feet. However, where there are lots comprising forty (40) percent or more of the frontage developed with buildings between cross streets, having an average front yard with a variation in depth of not more than six (6) feet, no building hereafter erected or altered shall project beyond the front yard line so established; provided further, that this regulation shall not require a front yard of more than thirty (30) feet in depth.
19.40.040 Rear yard. There shall be a rear yard having a depth of not less than twenty (20) feet.


Perhaps the solution would be to rezone the property first, to a commercial zoning, and then sell the property to a housing agency that could build something that would utilize the first floor for small commercial or professional offices, and then the top floors for residential. At 100 feet in length, it could allow for a decent size building.

Exemptions in the city zoning code allow for commercial setbacks when residential is combined with commercial uses.

Further, it might be good to dedicate a ROW right through the center of the two lots – where the side yards meet – to allow for easier parking access to the rear without more of the lot having to be eaten up for each lot to gain access to the rear? Encouraging the buildings to keep to the front street and placing the parking in the rear? Have one shared drive?

The location seems conducive to a commercial rezoning – a large corridor within a shouting distance of existing commercial and county commercial to the west.

I didn’t get to the comprehensive plan maps, but I can leave that to the professionals, no?

All of this – even holding up the sale to explore utilizing the parcels for affordable housing – takes extra time. Kudos to those who are willing to do that and try and make more affordable housing happen.


  1. noodly appendage

    That’s what variances are for, which are as much a part of the regulation, as the regulations themselves.

  2. jhwygirl

    The lots, noodly, have commercial zoning on both sides.

    Housing agencies, generally, try to avoid variances because of perceptions that they are ‘given’ to them regardless of merit.

  3. South of Town

    Two dinky lots? I guess I grossly over-estimated the need for “affordable” housing. Somehow, I got the impression that this was a crisis.

  4. noodly appendage

    “Perhaps the solution would be to rezone the property first, to a commercial zoning, and then sell the property to a housing agency ”

    And you think that kind of move wouldn’t create a “perception”?

    Sell the lots to the highest bidder.

  5. Selling the property under its current zoning will require a variance prior to development. Think about the kind of ‘perception’ that creates…

    In this situation, rezoning wouldn’t be a ‘sweetheart’ deal – its got commercial zoning on each side of the property, and while I didn’t check the comp plan map, given it is a stone’s throw from Reserve, I don’t think that changing the zoning to commercial is a stretch. It may even meet the comp plan, where the current zoning doesn’t.

    Besides, it only increased the value of the property. Undoubtedly by more than what the rezoning application would cost….any smart landowner would do the same under the same circumstances.

    The city has some obligations, yes – but they can, as landowner, decide how they’d want the property developed before they sell it.

    I think they should rezone, put out a RFP for a mixed use project that includes 2 or 4 two bedroom units (or whatever) that would be condominiums for persons making no more than 80% of the median income (frankly, I’d love it if they do it for persons making no more than 90 or 100% of the median income of a 3 person household).

    Let the highest bidder who can meet the city’s criteria for the RFP get the property. It might be a housing agency, it might be a market developer. Wouldn’t matter to me.

    Utilizing the higher income bracket would only increase the number of bidders. And right now, there isn’t an agency that addresses those making more than 80% of the median, while the amount of market homes affordable to those in the 80 to 100% bracket is severely lacking.

    It’s a tough site, with those dimensions. No one is going to want it under the current zoning, knowing they are going to have to go for a variance.

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