Jayson Jacoby
The Baker City Herald

A Baker City couple want to create a subdivision near Sam-O Swim Center that would include 28 two-story townhouses in seven separate structures.

Kevin and Kimberly Luckini, who own Marble Peak Construction, have submitted an application to the city for the Park Springs subdivision.

The development is proposed on a 2.83-acre parcel the Luckinis bought earlier this year just south of Sam-O, the city-owned swimming pool.

The property is between Baker and Broadway streets, and is in a medium-density residential zone.

At least one longtime resident of the neighborhood has submitted a letter to the Baker City Planning Commission expressing his concerns about the amount of traffic the development would create, and urging the Commission to limit the number of homes allowed to match the current, lower density in the neighborhood.

The Planning Commission, which has the authority to either approve or deny the proposed subdivision, has scheduled a public hearing and work session regarding the Luckinis’ application for July 18 at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 1655 First St.

In the application, Kevin Luckini wrote that the subdivision would consist of seven structures, each containing four 1,344-square-foot, two-story townhouses.

Each building would have two pairs of side-by-side townhouses.

Each of the 28 townhouses would be available for sale, and each would be considered a single lot, even though each structure would contain four townhouses, said Eva Henes, senior planner with the Baker City/County Planning Department.

Luckini wrote that each of the seven structures would have a “foundation ‘footprint’ of 2,640 square feet (30 feet by 88 feet).”

The seven proposed structures are “staked out on the property for review by any interested party,” Luckini wrote.

“We believe the proposed development will enhance the area of vacant land, compliment the surrounding neighborhood and help to promote infill of existing lands within the urban growth boundary, (UGB),” Luckini wrote in the application. “By developing land within the UGB and accessing nearby pre-existing utilities, we believe we can provide an attractive, efficient, and affordable housing option for the Baker community.”

Luckini said in a phone interview Thursday that he has not estimated prices for the townhouses, but he is confident that there is a market for such residences.

He said he and his wife, who have owned a home in Baker City since 2007 and have lived here full time since 2016, had been looking for a property that was suitable for a townhouse development.

The couple bought the property in May of this year for $80,000, according to records from the Baker County Assessor’s Office.

Luckini said he has talked with a few residents in the neighborhood, and he recognizes that any development — and in particular a type that’s new to Baker City, as the townhouses would be — will provoke concern among some people.

“I understand that anything that’s different can meet some resistance,” Luckini said. “But we feel like we’re doing the best we can to preserve the character of the neighborhood, and to improve on it if we can. We are doing our very dead level best to be good neighbors.”

To that end, he said the proposed subdivision includes a 12-foot-wide “greenbelt” with trees around the entire perimeter to preserve the privacy of existing neighbors as well as people who would buy the townhouses.

Luckini also said he has proposed to build the townhouses as far from the property lines as the city’s development code allows, to increase the buffer from existing homes.

He wrote that the townhouses would be “designed to attract all types of prospective homeowners from starter families to retirees,” and that the homes “will be built to the highest standards.”

He also said the subdivision would have a “very, very strict” set of codes, covenants and restrictions that would, for instance, require that residents keep their yards well-maintained and their garage doors closed when they’re not entering or exiting.

George Keister is one of the current residents who has talked with Luckini.

Keister and his wife, Linda, who have lived for 23 years at 630 Broadway St., just south of the proposed subdivision, said one of their chief concerns is the sheer number of homes, and the resulting increases in population and traffic.

“I’m very sympathetic with people being able to do what they want with their properties,” George Keister said on Thursday afternoon as he stood on the deck on the second story of his home and looked north over the bare ground where Luckini has driven wooden stakes to mark the proposed location of the townhouses.

“But this is just over the top as far as what anybody expected,” Keister said. “Traffic is a big concern.”

See more in the July 6, 2018 Baker City Herald