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Small lot size still up for debate

The Port Orchard Planning Commis-sion met with local builders and developers Tuesday night in a special meeting to discuss small lot development standards.

Associate planner Glynis Casey explained that the meeting was a “social gathering to discuss ideas as to what the city should look like in terms of residential development.”

“We’re here to discuss minimum lot sizes,” Casey said. “(The meeting) is kind of a free-form idea.”

Commissioners and residents gathered around tables in Council Chambers under a white board with a slogan: “To create great communities, neighborhoods must combine density with great design.”

According to Casey, density is currently calculated by the number of units per acre.

“To calculate the maximum allowed number of dwelling units for a particular parcel, multiply the...site area by the applicable residential density,” Casey said Thursday. “(For example), for a site with a net developable area of 2.5 acres in the R8 zone, the maximum number of dwelling units allowed would be 20.

And, for example, to calculate the minimum lot size in the R8 zone you would convert one acre into 43,560 square feet, and divide by 8 (to equal) 5,445 square feet.”

Casey said that for residential single family detached dwelling unit lots, the minimum lot size is 4,500 square feet.

Bill Palmer, an urban planner for 30 years in both the public and private sectors, explained how times are changing for developers.

“We need to take a little different perspective,” Palmer said. “We’re going to have more people than in the past. If we’re going to meet the Growth Management Act (GMA) (standards), we have to look at things differently than in the past. If we want to meet the GMA, we need smaller lots.”

Palmer alleges there are many benefits to smaller lots, including more open space, less road use and that smaller houses on smaller lots are more affordable for those just starting out.

However, several Commissioners were wary of relaxing the current requirements.

“We don’t want dumpy little houses on dumpy little lots...in the City of Port Orchard,” said Commissioner Tim Drury.

The Commission agreed to take several of the developer’s suggestions and discuss them at a later meeting.

“You need to take a look at your ordinances and regulations and make sure they’re meeting your needs,” Palmer said.

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