Harbor subdivision approved by city council
Blaine community development director Terry Galvin gave rare praise to the developers of a subdivision planned for the shores of Drayton Harbor. “They’ve done a wonderful job working with the city and the neighbors,” he said after city council unanimously approved plans for the project.
The Dodd Street Station project would create 90 new homes and two new streets on what was a 22-acre farm wedged between the harbor and the railway tracks to the north of Runge Avenue. At the October 10 meeting city planner Brent Baldwin outlined the substantial concerns that conditioned the planning commission approval of the project last month, from the health of the harbor to the impact the development would have on what is today a quiet and sparsely developed neighborhood.
“There was a lot of public input on this,” Baldwin said.
Access and transportation issues were at the top of the list of concerns for both neighbors and city planners. Primary access to the new neighborhood will be from the north off Dodd Street, and Baldwin said the developer, Homestead Northwest, has secured property to create another access from Runge Avenue to the south. “This second access we wanted to see for public safety,” Baldwin said, because it gives emergency vehicles another way in to the entire area if a train is blocking the Hughes Avenue rail crossing. Baldwin also said the developer had agreed to participate in road improvements to Runge Avenue and Dodd Street, including a wider roadway, curbs, gutters and a sidewalk, and later to the Hughes Avenue and Peace Portal Drive intersection. Another way the development could bring improvements to the larger neighborhood, Baldwin said, is by connecting to the dead-end water main now serving Seaside Drive to improve water quality for homes on that street.
Preserving green space and buffers separating the new homes from neighbors and the adjacent railway tracks was also a primary concern, Baldwin said. Homestead has agreed to create two new parks to serve the new homes and the larger community. Around a wetland at the northern end of the subdivision the developer will build a public park aimed at the recreation needs of families, including a play structure.
wetland near the shoreline will connect with
the Runge Street end property already owned by the
city to create another city park providing water access,
which will be further enhanced by a dedicated public
easement to the tidelands. “The beach itself will
always be open,” Baldwin said. Trails will link
the parks and connect with Montfort Park to the north,
and there will be limited parking
Neighbors wanted to see large trees in the area retained and Baldwin said Homestead had specifically designed road access at the end of Dodd Street to retain two large cedars there. Homestead representative Michelle Thompson added existing trees will be retained between the new lots and the railroad tracks and that a berm and additional vegetative buffering will be added. Trees will also be retained in the wetland and park areas. “Most of the big trees on the parcel now will be retained,” Baldwin said.
To reduce the risk of fecal coliform getting into the harbor during storms, the developer has agreed to put in shallow swales along the new streets to absorb most of the runoff and monitoring the water that does go into the harbor.
Council member Bob Brunkow wanted some assurances that the city wouldn’t get in trouble if Native American artifacts were uncovered during construction. Thompson assured council members they had retained an archaeologist that would be on hand during construction in potentially sensitive areas and would work with local tribes. “We promise we won’t put you in any jeopardy,” she said.
Council members unanimously approved the project and a vacation of 90,000 feet of city right-of-way, which Homestead will pay for by creating 200,000 new feet of municipal right-of-way.
Thompson said Homestead will now submit final drawings and they hope to start construction on roads and utilities in January. “We should have houses available by April or May,” she said. Like the homes in other local Homestead projects such as the nearby Harborside Estates or Baycrest in Birch Bay, Thompson said the homes would be “Craftsman-style family homes.” The two or three bedroom homes are expected to sell for $240,000 to $300,000 or more for waterfront homes. Construction will start close to the railroad tracks and Thompson said “I expect the entire project will be built down to the water in three years.”