National home builder pulls out of King Mtn

UGA process cited as reason developer opts out of property


National home builder D.R. Horton recently opted out of its option to buy 38 acres in the King Mountain five-year review area, just outside the city’s urban growth area (UGA).

The company had a two-year option to buy the land, located directly behind Wal-Mart, south of Van Wyck Road and east of Deemer Road, said property owner George Leonard. The company could have paid to extend the contract, but chose not to.

“I’m really surprised, because they’ve invested some time and money in it at this point,” Leonard said.

Leonard did not want to disclose the price of the option or what would have been the potential sale price of the land.

Leonard said he understood that D.R. Horton was frustrated with the ongoing process of updating the city’s comprehensive plan. The county council is set to vote on whether to expand the city’s UGA sometime this summer, which could include the King Mountain area.

“This was supposed to be determined by December 2005,” Leonard said of the UGA decision. “They’re extremely frustrated by Whatcom County government and the whole planning process. Why have deadlines if they’re not going to abide by them?”

Matt Farris, D.R. Horton Washington state division president, confirmed the company opted out of the option. He chose not to comment on the issue further, except to say the company had intended to purchase the property to develop it when it entered into the option contract two years ago.

“We don’t purchase property that is outside of the UGA,” he said.

Leonard’s acreage is currently zoned for one house per five acres. If it were included into the UGA, the property owners could initiate annexation into the city, which could then increase the land’s zoning density.

Leonard said he has had several inquiries about the property since D.R. Horton opted out of the option, and said at he would soon meet with Alliance Properties owner Ralph Black to discuss a possible purchase of the property.

Black is planning a large mixed-used development in the King Mountain area if it is included in the UGA and then annexed into the city.

D.R. Horton, a national home builder based in Texas, owns property in the Cordata area that it has been working to develop into homes for the past two years. It has more than 200 lots recorded in the area and is currently selling homes there.

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