Bellevue Planning and Zoning approved revisions for the housing development, Reserve at Bellevue, at a public hearing Monday.
The developer for Reserve at Bellevue, Neyer Properties, requested a revision of plans to include a private drive alley and a side yard variance to allow attached single-family units in the development. According to the developer, the need for the modifications was increased interest rates and construction costs, driving up the anticipated price of each unit.
The Reserve at Bellevue is a residential development at 724 Covert Run Pike, where Shady Terrace mobile home park formerly sat. It is a single-family home development featuring 74 urban-style home lots on 16 acres and represented a total investment of $35 million.
Part of the request was to change the side yard variance from 2 feet to zero to allow for attached single-family units. The site is a cluster overlay design, which does allow for attached and detached homes but not the variance change. The request is not to reduce the space between the detached units.
Planning and zoning director Cindy Minter said having a shared wall is now common because of high construction costs. Fluctuations for construction costs are as high as 42%, according to Minter. The developer was initially looking to build homes in the $400-$600,000 price range; however, the five houses already built on the site are selling in the $600-$900,000 range.
“I ran the numbers for the meeting tonight,” A third party consultant for Neyer Properties Charlie Pond said. “Originally, when we started the development, we thought that a $500,000 loan would be a lot for one of the residents. At a 3% rate, a monthly payment for PNI would be $2,100. Today, that same loan would need to be about $600,000—using round numbers because of the 20% increase in construction costs—at a 7% rate, that monthly payment is $3,990.”
The five homes currently on the lot are single-family detached units with a 2-foot setback for 4 feet between each home.
The plans for the attached homes would have two units or more sharing a common wall. The variance change would not affect the density or size of the lots. Pond also clarified that these are not condominiums.
According to Minter, some similar builds in the area include Memorial Pointe in Southgate and Martin’s Gate in Newport.
Another component of the revisions includes a private alley off Covert Run to serve ten homes within the development. This idea stemmed from comments the developer received during Homefest, an event that brings people from around the region to showcase luxury homes.
According to Pond, the main comments from Homefest visitors about the development were that the homes are beautiful but are too high of a price point for the surrounding area, access along Covert Run is not desirable, some homes need an elevator or ranch style options, the space between houses is inconsequential and a nightmare to maintain, and an opportunity for rear garages rather than facing the street.
Pond said all those items were achievable except the experience on Covert Run—which Bellevue City Administrator Frank Warnock noted the city has applied for a $2 million grant for a stormwater runoff project, a new surface, and sidewalks.
With the alley design, Pond said they could do an entire first-floor plan over a garage to meet the need for ranch-style homes and rear garages. The garages being in the back of the houses created a need for a separate entrance and exit for the ten homes.
Minter said the city engineer said the alley was an acceptable distance from other driveway entrances in the area, which concerned residents brought up at the meeting. Notices were mailed out to adjacent property owners ahead of the public hearing.
One Covert Run resident addressed the planning commission on the location of the alley entrance and stormwater runoff concerns.
“The alleyway—myself, I live on that other side of the street,” the resident said. “Now, if you’ve got a single sort of inflow of that traffic, it’s going to concentrate headlights right on whoever is in front of it. So, I can’t see that being desirable to any of the current neighborhood.”
Minter said the alignment with the alley entrance and the driveway across the street is a safety tactic. The alley will only serve the ten homes, and Minter said the entrance had yet to be finalized.
The resident also said the attached housing would cause additional stormwater runoff, and the developer should have a plan for that.
Another Covert Run resident questioned the developer’s plans to control water runoff.
“The other question was the existing retention pond obviously was sized for the original development and the amount of runoff,” the resident said. “So now with this new added hard surface, the driveway, and the alley in the back of the homes, is that retention pond going to be sufficient? I live down the hill from that pond on Covert Run, and we’ve always had water problems in that area.”
A retention pond on the property is currently designed to help with the water issues.
Pond said they would do an updated analysis with their engineer but said this new design’s impervious area is less than the original. An impervious surface is a hard area that doesn’t allow water to seep into the ground.
Pond said the original design has driveways from the front of the home, down the hill, and around to the entrance.
“So, our effort was actually to reduce the amount of additional impervious by doing this and not having to bring those driveways down,” Pond said.
The planning commission unanimously approved the developer’s requests for the variance change and alley addition, with a contingency that the developer cannot change the variance between the detached units.