Council sets criteria for possible new Village project, sets developer, staff in motion

The west side of the 2019 Village included two-story apartment buildings to the west. It's not clear what the council's new criteria would mean to the overall design. KLA Landscape Architecture/ Planning image

Mad River Union

ARCATA CITY HALL – On a 3–1 vote with Mayor Brett Watson dissenting, the City Council tonight gave direction to a developer and city staff to evaluate a new version of The Village housing project, one that it could approve if properly configured.

As stipulated by the council, the new project must have a 65/35 percent mix of open rental apartments and student housing. It may house no more than 602 residents with up to 5 percent "flexibility" – essentially a cap of 632 residents. No more than half of the apartments may have one bedroom.

Developer David Moon of AMCAL Equities LLC will first have to evaluate whether his company wishes to submit a redesigned project meeting those criteria. If so, planning staff will do an in-depth analysis, including whether or not the project must go back to the Planning Commission for reconsideration there.

Watson was adamant that he couldn't support a project with more than 602 residents. That's the population set for the student-only version of the project that didn't gain council approval last year. He'd also demanded mixed-use housing, a point on which Councilmembers Sofia Pereira and Paul Pitino, who preferred the student-only plan, were willing to compromise.

A number of those who opposed last year's project also spoke against the new version unveiled in January, citing excessive impacts on traffic, surrounding neighborhoods and the character of the town. Other speakers, including former Humboldt State President Rollin Richmond, advocated for approval in order to alleviate the student housing shortage.

In short, the council's compromise criteria includes the mixed housing introduced in the January version, but pulls down the maximum occupancy.

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