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Published 9:06 pm Thursday, April 19, 2007

By Staff
Somerset incorporates smart-growth elements
Contributing Editor
Washington’s first planned unit development is going from lines on paper to homes on streets.
Somerset, an idea of developer Chris Furlough, hosts an open house this weekend. The city’s first PUD is named for Henry Somerset, the second duke of Beaufort. The open house is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Somerset, north of the Smallwood subdivision, is located off American Legion Drive, which intersects with Market Street Extension. A grand opening likely will be held in May.
Somerset will eventually be a mix of about 200 Southern-style, single-family patio homes and townhouses. Somerset’s amenities include a community center, sidewalks, green spaces, wooded areas, walking trails and rear alleyway service entries and garages. The project is being developed by Somerset, LLC, a team of development, construction and environmental professionals, according to a Web site promoting the project. Furlough and Chris Anderson are the Somerset, LLC team.
Furlough, in an interview Wednesday, explained that Somerset clusters its residential areas to provide more green space, which serve as buffers between the clusters and provides areas for walking trails. Spreading out houses and townhouses over the property would eat up more of that green space, he said.
Furlough said he takes pride in Somerset being the city’s first PUD.
In May 2004, the City Council changed the zoning classification of 48 acres just north of the Smallwood subdivision from R-9S (residential-medium density) to planned unit development. Furlough sought the change to build a residential community on the land, which used to be fairgrounds.
A PUD district allows for the following residential uses: detached single-family dwelling, duplex, attached single-family dwelling or townhouse development group, condominium development group, multi-family development group, family care home (subject to restrictions), accessory building or use, public recreation or park facility and private recreation facility.
The PUD classification gives the city more control and oversight on how the property is developed and provides more protection to neighboring residents, according to city officials.
When he appeared before the council in May 2004, Furlough said he sought the PUD classification — a more-restrictive classification than R-9S — because the “property deserves a planned approach” that includes a mix of residential uses.
Somerset’s first phase calls for 21 patio homes and 32 townhouses. Five townhouses are almost finished. Three patio homes are under construction.
John Rodman, a planner with the city, said Somerset is the largest residential development under way in the city. Rodman also said Somerset is the type of residential development the city would like to see more of in the future.
Early last year, the Washington City Council decided the city should adopt smart-growth strategies to help guide development in the city. One principal of smart growth is mixed uses in a development, Rodman said. The PUD classification allows that to happen, he noted.
Clustering residential units and making a development more walkable than traditional residential developments are also keys to smart growth, Rodman said.
Somerset’s houses and townhouses will have interior doors and hallways that are wider than normal, Furlough said. Most homes are at grade level, meaning they require few or no steps to provide access to them, he said.
Somerset’s homeowners association will be responsible for maintenance mowing yards, landscaping and garbage pickup.
Somerset sales are being handled by Somerset, LLC and The Rich Company.