WALLA WALLA -- An area known for its babbling creek, wild fields and high bluffs crowned with vineyards could one day be the next major housing development for the city, if approved by Council members on Wednesday.
The Provenance subdivision could see as many as 199 single-family residences on what is now 77 acres of open field bordered by the Yellowhawk Creek subdivision, Assumption Catholic School and several other surrounding homes, farms and vineyards.
"It is a lot of homes in, to us, what is a very pristine area," said Kathy Ruthven, a local neighbor, who not only worries about losing the natural environment, but the traffic problems that will follow when an estimated 400 to 800 people move in to the 199 single-family residences. And she is especially concerned about the ensuing spike in traffic at Tausick Way and Alder Street.
"That is one of the worst intersections in the city, and they are thinking that little intersection will hold all that traffic?" Ruthven balked.
The proposal to develop the 77 acres is one that developers have been working on for years. In that time neighbors submitted dozens of letters of protest and have attended planning meetings to voice their concerns about preserving wildlife habitat, inadequate access for larger emergency vehicles, too few entrance and egress ways, and too small of lots (at one point the developers were opting to put 50 homes on six acres).
One of the weightier complaints against the development might be the effects to the local fish habitat.
The Nation Marine Fisheries Service said in a letter that Yellowhawk Creek, which runs through the 77 acres, was deemed a "vital migratory corridor for Middle Columbia River steelhead."
The agency went on to say the standard 25-foot setbacks as proposed would not be adequate to protect the critical riparian habitat.
At 7 p.m. Wednesday, Council members will review the Provenance development at their regular meeting at City Hall, 15 N. Third Ave.
Staff is recommending approval of the development.