Rezoning approved for housing development


Last updated 2/21/2023 at Noon

An affordable housing apartment project in Sisters cleared a big hurdle last week.

The Planning Commission approved a modified version of the City’s application for rezoning of Heavenly Acres from Urban Area Reserve (UAR) to Public Facilities and Institutions (PFI) and Multi-Family Residential (MFR), to accommodate the proposed apartment project.

The City had requested rezoning of two lots as MFR. Initially in their deliberations, the commission was hesitant to allow any MFR zone at this time because the agreements are not complete with NW Housing Alternatives (NWHA), the apartment complex builders.

A compromise was fashioned after hearing public testimony and Commission deliberations.

The final decision to grant the MFR rezone to the one lot adjacent to Wellhouse Church was predicated on the fact that NWHA was interested in that lot now, and if the commission didn’t approve the MFR designation now, the builder might go elsewhere.

NWHA is currently in negotiations with the owner of the lot, Wellhouse Church, to purchase the 2.63 acres to build and manage apartments specifically designated for people earning 80 percent of the adjusted area median income or less.

The Heavenly Acres subdivision (27.32 acres) was created in 1981 as part of Deschutes County. It was annexed into the City of Sisters in 1999 when it was subdivided into seven lots and platted. The properties are located in the southwestern area of Sisters and are bounded by West McKinney Butte Road to the north, Highway 242 to the south, and South Village Meadow to the east. The area is bisected north/south by North Trinity Way.

At the time of the annexation, Urban Area Reserve (UAR) zoning was applied to the property “to serve as a holding zone and to retain parcels in larger sizes until public facilities (including water, sewer, and transportation) are available and the land is rezoned for urban uses and densities.” Public facilities are all now available to the parcels and UAR isn’t a relevant designation.

The rezone has never been requested by any of the property owners, all of whom are churches. The impetus to finally push forward with the rezone relates to the City Council’s goal of achieving more affordable housing in the community.

Funds are available to help leverage affordable and workforce housing through the City’s Affordable Housing Grant Fund (funded by a percentage of the transient lodging tax), Urban Renewal District Funds devoted to housing, and from a one-time, $500,000 contribution of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds passed through from Deschutes County for affordable housing. MFR zoning for one lot was necessary to accommodate the low-cost housing. The Planning Commission chose to change the zoning on the remaining six lots to PFI.


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