WARRENTON — The Planning Commission on Thursday conditionally approved the 28-unit Latitude 46 Apartments on Jetty Avenue.
Jennifer and Jeff Canessa are planning the apartment complex next to a proposed 66-unit project by developer Jason Palmberg approved by the city in 2018. The two complexes will share stormwater treatment, but Palmberg said he doesn’t expect to start construction on the larger complex until next summer.
The approval of the Canessa’s project came with 14 conditions from Kevin Cronin, the city’s community development director. In one of the more controversial conditions, he recommended the Canessas cover 28 of the 49 planned parking spots with carports, a city standard not required in several previous apartment projects.
Jennifer Canessa argued the carports would be hideous, block landscaping and make the complex look like a parking garage.
“We want it to look aesthetically beautiful,” she said. “We want our tenants to feel like they are living with dignity. They’ve got a great place to live.”
Palmberg, at the meeting supporting the Canessa’s project, testified that previous projects like Dick Krueger’s Forest Rim Apartments did not require carports. Mike Morgan, a planning consultant on the Canessa’s project, estimated that requiring carports would add between $50 and $100 a month to rents, estimated at between $1,100 and $1,250.
Morgan pointed out that neither the Canessa nor Palmberg developments can be built until the city finishes upgrading two ailing pump stations on Marlin Avenue and near Fred Meyer, giving the developers six to eight months to apply for a variance not to build carports. The city should also look at eliminating the design standard for carports because of their look and affect on rents, he said.
The work on the two pump stations will cost around $800,000, Morgan said, with the cost falling on the city and the new users requiring more sewer service. The city has looked at an advance financed district, in which developments like the Canessa’s that lay the initial utilities would be reimbursed by future projects hooking up to the lines.
Discussion about the Jetty Avenue complexes’ water and sewer needs led to a larger one about the city’s capacity.
Commissioner Ken Yuill said he is concerned the city doesn’t take enough account of its sewer capacity when approving new projects. He unsuccessfully tried to continue the hearing on Latitude 46 until getting a statement from the city’s Public Works Department about the capacity of the wastewater treatment plant.
City Manager Linda Engbretson said the city is looking at the capacity of its wastewater treatment plant, which is designed to be expanded, but is not too concerned.
“Our water is more of a concern than our wastewater treatment plant,” she said.
Commissioner Christine Bridgens said the city also needs to look at the capacity of fire and police to handle all the new apartments. The staff report on Latitude 46 did not include any input by the Warrenton Fire Department, which recently went through a leadership change and a state investigation into safety violations.
Paul Mitchell, the president of the Planning Commission, responded that it’s the city’s responsibility to provide police and fire as the city grows.
“It isn’t for us to deny applications because we don’t have enough police and fire,” he said.