By Laura Swanson, Editor, Tillamook County Pioneer
The City of Manzanita Planning Commission is in the process of reviewing a proposed new housing development that has the potential to increase the city’s dwelling units by more than 40% — one of the largest developments in the area in several decades.
The Village at Manzanita proposes to build 300+ homes over the next 10 years on 70 acres adjacent to the Manzanita Golf Course. Encore Investments proposal is being given it’s first review by the Planning Commission on June 5th at 4 pm. “We knew there would be a lot of public interest in this development, due to its size and scope,” said city manager Jerry Taylor. “We wanted to provide the opportunity for public input from the beginning of this process so the Planning Commission meeting is being held at the Pine Grove Community House on Monday June 5th. We encourage all interested citizens to attend, or provide written comments.” This will be a “pre-application” meeting and the Commission will not be making any decisions on the application. The complete proposal may be seen on the City website at the following location:
(This is a large file — 20MB — and may take some time to load. A paper copy is available for inspection at City Hall.)
Encore Investments partners, Jim Pentz and Rick Hinkes welcome the opportunity to present their housing development to the community. In fact, Hinkes has actively answered questions on a local Facebook page about the development, stirring hundreds of comments. “We’ve put a lot of thought into this project,” said Rick Hinkes. “It’s been over a year in the making.” Actually, it’s been in the planning for over 30 years. Pentz and Hinkes finalized the purchase of the property that includes the Manzanita Golf Course and additional “back-nine” and driving range acreage from Steve Erickson earlier this year. “Over the years, we’d talked about this,” said Jim Pentz. “Fulfilling Ted Erickson’s original visions for this property.” Pentz’s relationship with Manzanita Golf Course goes back to the late 1970’s when his pump company installed the original irrigation system for the golf course. “Ted would call me whenever there was a problem … even after I didn’t have the pump company, I was still coming down to work on the irrigation in Manzanita. I was the pump guy,” commented Pentz. Now, he owns that irrigation system that he’s maintained all these years. Pentz is also the developer for “The Cottages” in Manzanita off Division Street.
“A lot of credit for keeping the golf course operating these last few years goes to Steve Erickson,” added Hinkes. “It hasn’t been profitable, and he’s had to invest more money just to keep it open.” Golf courses across the country are closing and being sold for property development. A good example of that trend is the recent sale of the Bay Breeze Golf Course in Tillamook adjacent to the Tillamook Cheese factory to TCCA. “Steve has done so much for this community,” said Hinkes. He continued, “Our current plans include doing whatever we can to keep the current nine-hole golf course.” The golf course will be closed this fall for reconfiguration of the holes to include the construction of a new club house and facilities. A decade ago, the Manzanita Golf Course averaged 40,000 rounds per year. Last year, only 17,000 rounds were played, as golf participation across the country is in a steep decline. And, it’s a short season on the Oregon Coast for golf. The developers acknowledged that the Manzanita Golf Course is an attraction and with more marketing, and more people could become at least a “break-even” situation. “The maintenance costs for golf courses continues to increase, and its especially challenging on the coast,” added Pentz.
The Village at Manzanita proposal includes a mix of recreational amenities and community-oriented commercial uses in addition to 280 to 320 detached, single family residences. “The property is zoned for over 400 homes, and a hotel,” said Hinkes. “We looked at all aspects of this, the look and feel. We want to build houses we would want to live in, a place to retire to.” The development has several phases with detached single family homes clustered in distinct neighborhoods, designed with all the garages in the rear. “That’s much like the early cabins in Manzanita,” noted City Manager Jerry Taylor. Forty-two percent of the acreage will be devoted to open space (40% is required by the city to be open space), including a path system to preserve and enhance the natural vegetation and provide recreational opportunities for residents and the general public. In addition, a commercial “village center” is proposed that would provide “necessities” for the residents within walking distance. “This is one way we are addressing traffic impacts, so people in the village can walk to get a paper or a gallon of milk, and not get into their cars,” said Hinkes. Other public areas include a new Manzanita Golf Course clubhouse and a “great lawn” area with multi-purposes including festivals, concerts and recreation. There would also be facilities for homeowners only including a private clubhouse, activity area, fitness center and spa.
“We understand the community concerns about a development this size,” noted Hinkes. “And we are aware of the need to address workforce housing, and we hope that will be part of conversations with the city about how we can all work together to accomplishment what’s in the best interests for Manzanita and the area. We are committed to use local contractors and suppliers as they are available.” Tony Erickson worked on The Cottages development in Manzanita, and is likely to have a similar role with this project.
To move forward, with The Village at Manzanita, Encore Investments proposal will need several zoning and ordinance changes. In particular, according to the development company’s economists, to increase the “saleability” of the homes and the economic viability of they project, they have requested that the cap on vacation rentals within the development be lifted. Currently, the inventory of vacation rentals in Manzanita is “capped” at 17.5% of the total home inventory. According to Amy VanDyke, manager at Sunset Vacation Rentals, “That would not be fair to the other vacation rentals. You can’t allow one area of town or one development to have no cap. There isn’t a shortage of vacation rentals in Manzanita at this point. You can’t get a house for July 4th, but we have inventory for other weeks in July and throughout the rest of the summer,” commented VanDyke. Sandra Heamon, in her written letter to the city addresses this issue as well, stating, “You cannot grant a new development a zero cap and not grant it to the rest of Manzanita. If a 0 cap decision is made, you change the character/dynamics of this entire community and not for the best. In their mission statement the company wants a ‘community that reflects Manzanita’s charm while adding new and unique experiences with an eye toward the future of the Oregon Coast.’ Their proposed removal of the short-term rental cap completely eliminates Manzanita’s ‘charm’.” Heamon raises other concerns including the roads, traffic, water system capacity, the commercial development, job creation and availability of workforce/affordable housing and the proposed years for the development.
At the City of Manzanita, Jerry Taylor has been hearing similar comments. “The top one is probably concerns about Necarney Road, which is a county road, and Classic Street, which is a city street,” said Taylor. “The commercial part of the development isn’t popular either, and the number of homes, but people don’t seem to understand that 300 homes aren’t going to appear overnight. This is a ten-year, phased development.” Manzanita averages 20-25 new homes per year, so this development could potentially double that rate. “We are in the discovery stages of reviewing this proposed development. Nothing has been approved and there is a lot more to talk about,” added Taylor. “In particular, we look forward to working on the possibilities of encouraging developments to include workforce housing in future projects. We’ll be having those conversations.”
“To build this development, they are going to need to provide housing for the contractors,” said VanDyke. “To maintain and clean the homes, for the commercial/retail spaces, they will need employees for those stores, and those people will need places to live. Every business in the area is understaffed and the main reason is because people can’t find a place to live here. I think they need to make 10% of the homes in any new development as workforce housing.”
There has been a loud outcry about the size of the development from people that don’t even live in Manzanita. Many people discovered their “little piece of heaven” here in North Tillamook County and want to close the door after they’ve moved in. This begs the question, “What if the door closed before you got here?” No one wants a development that will forever change the quality of life in the community, but you cannot stop people from building on their property, as long as it follows zoning ordinances. Growth and development is inevitable. Manzanita was established in the early 1900’s as a “resort vacation village.” And through thoughtful measured approaches the city has maintained that village atmosphere for over a century, and that mindfulness about the impacts of development will help guide city leaders in the 21st century.
For more information about the Village at Manzanita development, go to the City of Manzanita website www.ci.manzanita.or.us. The Planning Commission initial public review of this proposal will be held on Monday June 5th at 4 pm at Pine Grove Community House, 225 Laneda Ave., Manzanita.