Kent City Council OKs demo projects for cottage housing

The Kent City Council on Tuesday will consider a revised ordinance to allow the development of cottage homes similar to these at the Danielson Grove community in Kirkland.

The Kent City Council on Tuesday will consider a revised ordinance to allow the development of cottage homes similar to these at the Danielson Grove community in Kirkland.

The Kent City Council voted unanimously Nov. 18 to approve a demonstration ordinance to allow developers to build up to two cottage-housing projects in the city.

No cottage-housing developments currently exist in Kent.

Cottage-housing developments feature small, detached single-family homes clustered around a common open space with garages and parking located away from the homes. Under the measure, cottage homes in Kent would need to be 1,500 square feet or less. Carriage homes, which could be built above the detached garages, would need to be 968 square feet or less.

City staff brought a revised ordinance to the Council for approval after the Council voted 4-3 Oct. 21 against the original ordinance. Council members asked city staff to allow fewer homes in denser neighborhoods and to require that neighbors of a proposed development be allowed to comment on the project.

The Council added two amendments Nov. 18 to the revised ordinance, which goes into effect Dec. 18.

One amendment allows carriage homes above garages to be as large as 968 square feet rather than the 800 feet allowed under the staff proposal.

“To add 168 feet to an 800-square-foot home that’s almost 20 percent larger,” Councilman Les Thomas said in support of the amendment. “At 800 square feet, that’s pretty small.”

The Council also passed an amendment adding two city residents to a Cottage Housing Committee that will review proposals for these kinds of developments.

That committee also is supposed to include the chairman of the Planning and Economic Development Committee, the chairman of the Land Use and Planning board, the city planning manager, the city economic development manager and the city development engineering manager.

“I don’t want the committee to approve the design to only be city employees,” Council President Debbie Raplee said. “I think it’s beneficial to have two citizens on the committee for transparency.”

City staff suggested the addition of two residents to the committee might make the committee too large. The Council disagreed.

“I don’t see any harm with two people on the committee from the community,” Councilwoman Jamie Danielson said.

The ordinance will allow a maximum of 24 units per development and a minimum of six units. The demonstration ordinance will allow as many as two projects but would not be a permanent ordinance.

City staff also revised the ordinance to allow a neighborhood meeting to give neighbors a chance to comment on a proposal before approval of a project. Another revision would allow developers the option to build underground vaults for storm-water detention.

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