A big turnout with standing-room-only and a host of Zoom viewers attended the Twisp Planning Commission meeting last week. The Methow Valley News reports strong community interest in the proposed 52 unit housing development in the schoolhouse hill area on the bluff west of downtown Twisp in an abandoned orchard. Palm Investments owns the property, which is being characterized as an opportunity to develop affordable single-family housing. Developers Jerry and Julie Palm cited the critical need for affordable housing in the Methow Valley in the original Orchard Hills application. Mark Villwock, representing the developers at last week’s public hearing, told the commission that the Palms want to provide a welcoming neighborhood and help meet the community’s housing needs. Orchard Hills would include substantial open space, and the site’s steep slopes would be protected from future development. Several citizens testified saying they were not generally opposed to development on the property, but cited several issues that have been raised consistently about the project as presented, including:
- Ingress and egress to the area is currently by only one street, which would create problems if the area needs to be evacuated because of wildfire concerns or other emergencies.
- The proposed housing, according to many commenters, should not be characterized as “affordable” because of the anticipated costs of development.
- The proposed density could negatively affect the character of the neighborhood
- The proposal should be considered in context with the several other potential housing projects that are in various stages of development, given the increased pressure on water and sewer systems and other town services.
The revised proposal calls for 52 residential lots of 3,630 square feet to 8,903 square feet, and three open space tracts on approximately 17 acres. The open space would cover about 6.8 acres, or 40% of the development.
Last week’s hearing was continued until the commission’s March 8 meeting, when more testimony can be offered. Written comments will also be accepted. But after March 8, the public’s participation will be limited. Meeting details can be found at townoftwisp.com.