More houses, new apartments added to Richland

More houses, new apartments added to Richland
RICHLAND, Wash. - Hundreds of more homes are planned for a mega-neighborhood in South Richland.

It's a part of town that's already got schools bursting at the seams.

Houses in the Tri-Cities are going up just as fast as they're being sold. Fields of sagebrush are morphing into housing tracts. Like the area lovingly known by locals as Beer Falls.

Nearly 500 new homes will be added to south Richland, near Amon Basin. Leaving many to wonder how an already over-crowded school system will manage.

Marisa Strom said, "I think there's a lot of other things that need to be thought about not just the nature preserve which is very important as well but these poor kids, who are going to be stuck in these over-crowded school rooms."

Marissa takes advantage of the Home Link program. It keeps her kids out of traditional classrooms.

"I see more children coming in, bigger classes, growing, growing, growing and I am afraid of the future," she said.

Many of the homes nearby feed into Badger Mountain or White Bluffs Elementary, both are loaded with students. Richland's recent bond issue will help alleviate that building a new elementary school and middle school and renovating others.

That bond money only addresses what's needed now, not the kids of 500 families who will live in a neighborhood straddling Center Parkway.

So far, impact fees, like what we've seen in Pasco, aren't on the table.
Developers there were hit with as much as six-grand per home to offset the affect on schools.

Richland says it keeps the school district updated as it plans for the future.

Rick Simon, development services manager with Richland said, "Public agencies like school districts have all the information that we've got in terms of where new development of projects are being proposed and what's coming so they can respond appropriately."

Still, people like Marissa worry the Tri-Cities is overbuilding.

"We don't want to get so overcrowded that we become something different than our rivers and tumble weeds," she said.

She's hoping the fields of sagebrush will stay as-is.

Richland has also used redistricting to try to balance out the student populations.

Changes to school borders will also happen as the new schools are built.

The new homes in the Beer Falls area are expected to be rolled out in chunks of 20 to 30 at a time.

If all those new houses weren't enough...plans for 250 apartments are in the works for the north end of Richland.

A 25 acre lot just north of Spengler Road is the current development site.

The Sunshine Apartments will sit near the top of GWay out by Hanford High School.

City council is working to put the finishing touches on the proposal.

Once the deal is done, ground breaking on the new complex could start by the end of summer.