The Ellensburg City Council stayed true to the process Monday night, asking staff to study the exemption of traffic impact fees associated with the 49-unit Spurling Court Apartments development.

The development consists of 29 dwelling units on the east side of Rainier Avenue and 20 units on the west side of the street, and is considered an affordable housing project with 48 of the units targeting households with incomes at or below the average median income.

The exemption request submitted by HopeSource asked that traffic impact fees for the 48 units be waived. Fees have been calculated at $51,264.

“The way our verbiage reads is that (Spurling Apartments) is eligible to receive a waiver. You can waive up to 80 percent and not have to pay the shortfall,” city manager John Akers said.

As of fall 2017, Kittitas County had the lowest apartment vacancy rate of counties surveyed in state — 0.5 percent, according to the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington. In March of 2018, the city council approved a rezone the Spurling Place affordable housing complex on West Rainier Avenue, which was consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan finished in December 2017.

“I thought able to stay true to our vision of the city’s comprehensive plan and where we want to be moving forward,” council member Nancy Lindquist said. “It’s a process and I thought we received good in formation about how we want to develop.”

RCW 82.02060 allows cities to adopt traffic impact fees for the purpose of covering the cost of public facilities generated by new development. However there is a subsection that allows for the exemption for low-income housing, provided the impact fees be paid from public funds.

The claim for exemption has to be covered by a draft lien guaranteeing the low-income housing will continue for no less than 15 years.

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