The much discussed Wintergreen Project has finally passed enough muster with the Island’s Planning Commission to be approved on a split 5-2 vote.
A month-long deadlock was broken when city staff provided new code clarifications and the project’s developer agreed to resolve differences on property setbacks, and make further assurances to ensure the new affordable units remain that way in perpetuity.
The project now goes to city Planning Director Heather Wright, and then on to the hearing examiner.
For many months, Housing Resources Bainbridge has been working together with Housing Kitsap, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, and local developer Central Highland Homes to advance The Wintergreen Townhomes Project – a development planned at Highway 305 and High School Road in the space between Virginia Mason and Walgreens.
After little recent practical progress on the building of affordable housing on Bainbridge, this project appears to offer a chance for much-needed swift impact, something which local employers are hoping for as part of a solution to aid both their businesses and the well-being of employees. Islanders interested in promoting affordable housing, and supporting local business on the island are invited to review the full project details and give voice to their opinion.
Wintergreen aims to provide 73 much-needed local housing units aimed at low and moderate income range Islanders. Of those 73 units, 31 of them are intended to be income-qualified affordable housing units – available only to households making 80% or less of Area Median Income. That means that they would be available only to individuals with a current annual income of not more than $52k, two-person families earning up to $60k, three-person families with income of up to $67k et al).
Those same 31 units will also be placed in the hands of Housing Resources Bainbridge’s Community Land Trust as a best community effort to have the units remain affordable in perpetuity. The Wintergreen Project’s remaining 42 units will be less-strictly offered, but, at a $450K range are intended to still be affordable to moderate income folks and in the long-term will subsequently remain on the open market for future resale.
The partner agencies are moving forward at pace, and plan to finalize their land purchase by mid-October.
Having been in the hands of the Design Review Board for some time, this project is set to make a third successive appearance for continued discussion on the agenda at the next Planning Commission meeting on Thursday, September 23.
The project’s first two Special Planning Commission Meetings have been lively affairs featuring strong verbal and written support from the community accompanied by debate around the application of city code with regard to property buffers, multiple procedural questions for city staff, and proposals for additional ways for developers to formally and irrevocably commit to creating affordable housing in writing. City staff have been tasked by the commissioners with bringing specific clarifications on the code inconsistencies to the third special meeting, giving a basis for hope of a resolution this time around.
Watch those first two meetings online:
Planning Commission Special Meeting of Thursday September 2, 2021
Planning Commission Special Meeting of Thursday September 9, 2021
Log in to the third meeting at 6pm on September 23rd via Zoom:
(Public comment is very much welcomed)
Can’t make the meeting but want your voice to be heard? Write to the Planning Commission collectively via [email protected] and/or email the members individually via: https://www.bainbridgewa.gov/239/Planning-Commission
The complete Wintergreen Townhomes Project summary, architectural renderings, and a demonstration video are all available online at: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1l1MQLC1Z6ttOvoHsD9emY-Quw9PYYw5s?fbclid=IwAR1ozuvnz5MXT1hSoYmiLBiRk4kAnqgIDTUFbkS5xK9IdxLDgthycTTbVfM
If approved by the Planning Commission, the next step for the Wintergreen Townhomes Project will be formal consideration by the Bainbridge hearing examiner.