Town council acts on waterfront, Greenwood development issues
July 8, 2021
On Tuesday, the Cathlamet Town Council held its first hybrid meeting with all council members attending in-person since before the pandemic. Furthermore, the council approved a resolution to accept remote attendance and voting of council members for all future meetings.
Richard Erickson, representing the Wahkiakum Chamber of Commerce, requested the council spearhead development along the waterfront property at the site of the former sewer lagoons next to Port District No. 1.
“The port is looking at maybe relocating some of their RV sites,” Erickson said. “They're looking at developing the land they've got and I thought it would be advantageous for the Town and port to be looking at what each other's doing.”
Council members agreed to hold a special meeting with the several entities in the county who would be involved to discuss next steps. Council member Laurel Waller suggested the meeting be held publicly to allow the input of the community.
“I think we do have to start and get public input again,'' Council Member Olson agreed. “And collectively learn more from what we've seen from other municipalities.”
The town had requested state funds earlier in the year to help cover the $500,000 budget for the waterfront development but was listed as an alternative grant recipient by the Recreation & Conservation Office. In addition, the town conducted studies and surveys in 2018 for a comprehensive park plan which includes waterfront development which did not move forward due in part to a dissolved planning commission which still doesn’t exist today.
Four local investors met with Mayor Dale Jacobson and Town Attorney Fred Johnson last week to draft a development agreement for 20 acres of land on Greenwood Hill. Sunnyfield, LLC, frontman Steve Sharp and partners Tim Hanigan, Bob Youngers, and David Kirby approached the council in hopes of garnering the council’s support for their 32 lot subdivision and to negotiate stunting hookup fees.
“There is a housing crisis in Cathlamet,“ Sharp, who owns a property management company, stated. “A group of friends were discussing this very subject when one asked ‘how can we fix this problem for our community?'”
The Sunnyfield development would roughly generate $65,000 per year in revenue to the town, and developers would cover the costs of constructing lots to the town's water and sewer specifications. Upon completion, the group would turn over their systems to the town.
Youngers requested the town waive hook up fees which would roughly amount to $300,000 of upfront costs and hinder the Sunnyfield project from taking off.
“If you can waive the capital fees up front, you can establish a serious improvement to your cash flow,” Youngers explained.
Youngers added that the town has had less than 10 hook ups to their sewer and water system in the last 13 years because of the cost to developers. If the town negotiates with the Sunnyfield four, that number could quadruple in at least half the time with no money lost, but much to gain, he said.
“Everyone wants this to happen,” Council member Bill Wainwright commented. “My concern is that we are becoming a partner in a development, and there are land mines associated with it.”
Both the town and the Sunnyfield four expressed a need to learn more about costs, engineering requirements, etc., but as Sharp outlined, this meeting was about two things:
“We want to come out of today's meeting with two things, one, an over growing resolve, that you guys are behind us. And we've already established that. The second thing is, we want the council to go ahead and authorize the mayor and Fred to continue negotiating this document and bring back to you a final finished document with all the questions answered with all the i's dotted the T's crossed.”
The council voted to approve the development agreement and to agree in concept and support the overall project. Council members will hold a special meeting on July 16 to decide the details of working with Sunnyfield which will influence the group’s ability to bring their plan to fruition.