The huge development proposed by BBC LLC on West Palouse River Drive received a favorable recommendation from the Moscow Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday.

Despite various concerns from the public, the commission unanimously recommended approving: a Comprehensive Plan Land Use Designation from Auto-Urban Residential and Rural and Agriculture to High-Density Residential and Auto-Urban Residential; a rezone of the 235-acre property from Agriculture Forestry Zone to Residential Office and Medium-Density Residential zones; a proposed preliminary plat of a 27-acre area to create 105 lots at Edington Subdivision.

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Rich Beebe recused himself from the decision because he is the developer for the project.

Next, the commission will consider a Relevant Criteria and Standards document, and if approved, the City Council will consider the three recommendations the commission made as well as annexation.

The 235-acre property proposed to be annexed into the city is located south of the city’s West Palouse River Drive property (proposed for ballfields) and west of the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories property on U.S. Highway 95.

Of the 105 lots, 20, including 17 townhouse lots, are proposed within the Residential Office Zone. Fifty-five townhouse lots and 30 single-family lots also are planned.

Scott Sumner, principal owner of SynTier Engineering which is handling engineering services for the development, said the subdivision will provide housing for those who struggle to find housing in Moscow. He said the homes also will drive down the incredibly high home prices currently experienced in the city.

Chris Carpenter, a Moscow real estate agent, spoke in favor of the project during the public hearing Wednesday. He said there are 10 residential homes and 13 residential lots on the market in Moscow.

Carpenter said the average sales price this time last year for a Moscow single-family home was $288,500. He said it has increased to $337,500.

“We’re seeing huge supply problems,” Carpenter said.

About 30 people — all of whom wore face masks — attended Wednesday night’s meeting and about six of them spoke against the project. They cited concerns that the development would strain the region’s water supply, bring increased traffic to West Palouse River Drive and the surrounding neighborhood, and lead to an increased need for police, fire and school services.

Public infrastructure improvements to West Palouse River Drive are expected in conjunction with the project.

BBC asked the city last month for its financial participation in extending Conestoga Drive and constructing a bridge on the proposed extended street that would cross the South Fork of the Palouse River and facilitate access to the proposed subdivision.

The cost to construct the roadway, bridge and utilities is estimated at $2.37 million. The city would pay for no more than $1.08 million of the cost under the proposed agreement.

Because the proposed residential development and proposed development of the city’s playfields would bring increased vehicular traffic on West Palouse River Drive, BBC would make improvements to the street from Conestoga Drive to South Main Street. Those improvements would include widening the street and adding curbing and sidewalk to the south side of the street.

The City Council will consider approving a memorandum of agreement between the city and BBC regarding the public infrastructure improvements at Monday’s council meeting.

Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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