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Meridian approves townhomes, despite parking concerns

The project, by Blaine A. Womer Civil Engineering, is planned for 1789 N. Hickory Way.
Credit: Jake King / Idaho Press

MERIDIAN, Idaho — This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press

The Meridian City Council voted to change an area’s zoning from commercial to residential in preparation for planned townhomes, despite some concerns about parking and the best use for the area.

The project, by Blaine A. Womer Civil Engineering, is planned for 1789 N. Hickory Way.

Councilmembers Treg Bernt and Luke Cavener voted against portions of the plan, partially because both believe the area is best used for light office or commercial although Cavener acknowledged it would be challenging for commercial businesses to succeed in the spot because of the layout of existing commercial.

Another issue was parking. Blaine Womer, who is with the project, said the development was required to have 27 parking spots and would be providing 51.

“I think what we’ve done is more than mitigate it with your recommendation that we provide additional parking,” he said. “I think that it quite clearly mitigates any concern that there should be with respect to parking just by sheer numbers.”

The project previously came before the city council on Sept. 7, 2021, and in early December, Meridian’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval.

The plan is to build 19 single-family attached and townhouse dwellings on 1.97 acres, according to the city’s staff report. The zoning was switched from limited office to medium high-density residential. On the future land use map, the area is designated as commercial but is currently vacant and undeveloped, the report said.

The Treasure Valley is currently experiencing a housing shortage. A 2019 report showed the area needed over 19,000 more units by 2021 to keep up with population growth, according to KTVB. The Boise metro area needs 19,425 units by the end of 2023 in order to achieve a balanced market, according to a Boise Regional Realtors news release from September 2021.

Cavener said the city and code enforcement would be hearing from citizens about parking once the project was built.

“The parking layout is not conducive to supporting the neighborhood at all,” Cavener said. “The residents are going to be frustrated, the business patrons are going to be frustrated.”

Though it was approved, most of the council was not enthusiastic about the project. However, Councilmember Brad Hoaglun said he was excited the plan would provide homes in an area that doesn’t require building additional schools to support the growth.

School overcrowding has been a significant issue in Meridian. Councilmembers previously have said the issue makes it harder to support residential projects in certain areas of the city.

“This is a good use for this property,” Hoaglun said.

Councilmember Jessica Perreault said she was not a fan of the parking location, but it wasn’t an awful project, thoughts Councilmember Liz Strader echoed.

“I’m not loving it, but I think I could live with it,” Strader said. “That’s kind of where I’m at.”

This article originally appeared in the Idaho Press, read more on IdahoPress.com

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