SEASIDE - Changes are afoot on Tillamook Head.

Construction has commenced on Whaler's Point near the Cove, with 18 condominium units scheduled for completion within approximately six months, according to Seaside developer Kenneth Ulbricht. Depending on sales for the first phase and final plan approval for the second phase of the project, - bringing the total number of units to 30 - the additional work could begin within six months, he said.

"We're starting on the east end of the property and going west," Ulbricht said. He is known for developing the Sandpiper Village complex in the 1100 block of South Holladay Drive and other projects.

The two- and three-bedroom units at Whaler's Point will range in size from 1,300 to 1,800 square feet.

Mike Maltman is Ulbricht's developing partner in the project, and Maltman Construction of Seaside is the contractor. Fences were installed along the property line as site preparation and construction began.

The Seaside Planning Commission unanimously approved the final development plan for the first phase of construction in May, following approval of the preliminary plan last year. The area is zoned as medium-density residential.

Construction at the prominent, ocean-front property could have been more extensive.

The first part of the development in buildings covering 16,236 square feet, occupies less than 20 percent of the total area for the first phase of the project - approximately 1.8 acres. The zone allows coverage of up to 40 percent, according to the Seaside planning staff.

Conditions of the approval included installation of a pump to ensure adequate water pressure for firefighting, and an upgrade to the sewer and storm water overflow basin, said Kevin Cupples, Seaside's community development director.

"A local individual had expressed concern about access to a trail" to the beach, he added.

Ulbricht said he and Maltman were working with state parks officials to modify the location of the path, which originates near the Seaside end of the Ecola State Park hiking trail across Tillamook Head.

The suggested path to the beach weaves onto both public and private property.

"Where (trail users) were going before was causing too much erosion and it was going to be moved anyway," Ulbricht said. After discussing a new path location with state officials, he said he is optimistic that all parties will be satisfied.

Maintaining a path to the beach was among concerns of local surfers in an earlier plan by Ulbricht.

The project plan maintains public access to a viewing area of the Pacific Ocean near the development. Provided it is not vandalized, it will remain open to the public, according to the planning staff.

For years, previous proposals by other developers called for far more dense level of construction in the area.

In 1994, the Seaside Planning Commission reviewed a conceptual plan for a proposed 195-home development on the north face of Tillamook Head, known as the Waterhouse project. The plan called for an "environmental overlay" zone to keep plans in line with aims to be environmentally sensitive, and traffic impacts presented another concern.

Ultimately that project was not pursued.

In more recent years, Ulbricht engaged in property negotiations with the owners of various lots in the Whaler's Point. One tax lot was excluded from the initial development plan, and it will separate the first phase from any future phases of the development.