Many conversations around town these days sooner or later lead to the subject of growth in Sisters.

One common sentiment is that more work-force housing is needed in Sisters so employees who work in Sisters can afford to live in Sisters. Others argue that Sisters will lose its small-town charm as more housing units are squeezed into a limited urban growth boundary.

Growth means more people, more housing, more traffic, more students for our schools, a growing economy, more employment opportunities, greater density, and more pressure on the city infrastructure. Growth is always and everywhere a double-edged sword.

Since 2006, homebuilder Hayden Homes has been engaged in building single-family homes and townhouses in Sisters, first in the various phases of the Village at Cold Springs. Included in that master plan were 29 apartment units on Lot 170 that have never been built.

In October of this year the City received a site plan from Hayden for the 33,909-square-foot lot with three three-story apartment buildings proposed. Hayden has indicated on a number of previous occasions that they do not build apartments, although they have agreed to them in their master plans.

Hayden was told by the City that they would not receive certificates of occupancy for the homes in the final phases of Village at Cold Springs until half of the apartments were constructed. They are currently clearing the land and putting in the infrastructure for those homes. At this point in time, it is not known who will build the apartments or when they will be built.

Community Development Director Patrick Davenport indicated to The Nugget that the Village at Cold Springs should be completed by 2020.

Currently, Hayden has a new master plan before the City for development of the former McKenzie Meadows property located between the Village at Cold Springs and Sisters High School on McKinney Butte Road. The proposed project would allow for the construction of 198 mixed residential unit types including single-family detached dwellings, townhouses, a multi-family complex, and a small commercial/residential mixed-use area. Ten percent of the residential units (20) must be affordable housing units (AHU) according to the property's original annexation agreement.

A total of 3.34 acres of the 30 acres is proposed to provide recreation opportunities, breaking of housing blocks, and improve tree preservation. Hayes McCoy, civil engineer who conducted an inventory of trees on the 30 acres, said there are 240-250 trees and over half of them would be removed. Hayden applied for a change in the original location of the park as proposed by McKenzie Meadows in an effort to save more trees.

The 30-acre property has a minimum density requirement of seven units per acre. The buildable acreage, after subtracting the open space, is 27.77 acres. At seven units per acre, that would be 195 units. With the 198 units proposed, that equals a density of 7.13 units per acre.

If approved, the preliminary development schedule would be: March 2019 Phase 1 street and utility construction (SUC); July 2019 Phase 1 housing construction (HC); July 2019 Phase 2 SUC; December 2019 Phase 2 HC; March 2020 Phase 3 SUC; July 2020 HC; November 2020 Phase 4 SUC; March 2021 Phase 4 HC; July 2021 Phase 5 SUC; December 2021 Phase 5 HC; March 2022 Phase 6 SUC; July 2022 Phase 6 HC.

Phase 6 contains the 60 multifamily units, last to be built, but marked with an asterisk on the master plan which refers to a note: Proposed multifamily phasing may change. Actual phasing of multifamily units shall be governed by annexation agreement. Multifamily units may be constructed at any time within the limits of annexation agreement.

At an earlier meeting, residents of the neighboring Village at Cold Springs voiced concern over streets in the new development connecting directly to Hill and Williamson Streets, which run through the Village at Cold Springs, and increasing the traffic flow through narrow streets that are maintained by the residents. According to the new master plan, Hill and Williamson will provide emergency access only and will not be open to general traffic.

On January 17 the new master plan will be presented again to the public at the meeting of the Sisters Planning Commission, and people will have an opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns. This will not be a formal public hearing; rather a community meeting.