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HRB to placed stacked units on its Knechtel Way property
A healthy Port Orford cedar was sacrificed, but the island’s Housing Resources Board is ready to begin site work to relocate two one-bedroom modular homes on land it owns on Knechtel Way.
The homes, which were built as prototypes for sustainable, high-tech affordable housing, were purchased by the nonprofit Community Land Trust and moved to the island last fall. The current plan calls for moving the stacked units on July 15, followed by interior and exterior upgrades.
The homes will be placed behind the HRB’s existing Island Home property – four apartments in two, two-story buildings.
In order to offer parking for the new occupants, one of two cedar trees located behind the apartments was cut down Friday. The site-plan permit approved by the city included removal of the tree, which was about 40-feet tall and an estimated 40 to 50 years old.
Arborist Olaf Ribeiro, who was alerted about the pending tree removal by a neighbor living in one of several HRB apartment houses in the area, said there was nothing in the city code that could be used to stop the removal.
“It’s good that one will be saved,” he said, “because these are very unique trees. The removal wasn’t mentioned in the site plans, but I talked to Kathy Cook (the city’s planning director) and she said the owners had approval to take it out.”
Ken Balizer, who joined HRB on May 3 as its new executive director, said that as long as removing the tree isn’t illegal it was something that had to be done for tenant parking. He said the tree's removal was needed to fit the modules intothe require amount of space and that the cost of removal was prohibitive.
“It’s unfortunate,” Balizer said, “but you have to put it in the context of us providing two affordable housing units for income-qualified adults. Sometimes you have to make sacrifices and we’re placing them in the most urban part of Bainbridge Island and near similar (HRB-owned) units, so they are in character.”
Balizer, who recently moved here from Albuquerque, N.M., said the total cost (donated) of the units will be about $150,000. “That’s pretty good when considering the quality of the units,” he said.
Marlys Burnett, who lives in the Janet West apartments that border IslandHome and the two trees, said HRB had kept the tree cutting quiet.
“They should have told us,” she said, “but I guess they didn’t have to if its legal.”
She said some of the neighbors had concerns about the two module units, including members of development located just north of Island Home. They were worried about their co-op garden having the sun blocked out by the stacked units, which are 25 feet tall when assembled.