The Banks-Vernonia State Trail near the Banks Trailhead. Photo: Chas Hundley

BANKS - Hillsboro-based Ardor Consulting filed a comprehensive plan and zoning amendment with the city of Banks to construct the 30-unit Banks Apartments at 42350 NW Banks Road, located near the head of the Banks-Vernonia State Trail and downtown on a .98-acre plot of land.

The property is being considered for rezoning from low-density single-family residential to multi-family residential. The applicant, Greta Holmstrom, lists a Hillsboro address as the office of Ardor Consulting in the land use application.

If constructed after passing through the city’s planning process, the Banks Apartments would be the first property of its kind in town, city documents say.

Records obtained from the City of Banks list the owner of the property as H&J Properties LLC, which provides a PO box as its address.

The application also says the development will provide “economic diversification and stability” in the area around downtown Banks.

“It’s simply a land use application to (rezone the property),” Banks City Manager Jolynn Becker said. “At this point, we haven’t heard any pros or cons, and we won’t know them until there is a hearing before the (city) council for the land use change. The time it takes from the filing of a land use application to meeting all of the requirements and final approval is typically a good year.”   

The application further states that the city’s urban growth boundary update in 2011 identifies a shortage of multi-family housing in Banks. At that time, there existed 40 units with five or more dwellings, but population projections show the city needs about 150 multi-housing units by 2029 to meet projected growth.

This will allow young families, senior citizens wanting to age-in-place or relocate to be near family, and single working professionals, among others, another option when looking for housing in Banks, the application states.

According to the recent development moratorium passed by the Banks City Council in December of 2018, a 30 unit multi-family development would fall under one of a handful of exemptions to the moratorium, provided the project "employ the water conservation measures in Banks Code of Ordinances Chapter 5.24."

If it were built, it could be the first of three such allowed multi-family or apartment type developments allowed; the city has capped such developments to a total of three for the duration of the moratorium and any extensions that bring it past the first six months of the development moratorium.

City officials and observers said new development would tax Banks’ potable water system to the point where a water shortage of some kind is a looming possibility without corrective action.

Even so, it is argued in Ardor Consulting’s land use application that multi-family housing units use significantly less water than single-family housing. The application goes on to cite a 2018 study conducted by Denver-based The Water Research Foundation that looks at five U.S. cities. It found multi-family units were 200 percent more efficient with water use than single-family homes.  

The Water Research Foundation study said that compared to single-family homes, multi-family homes have “fewer plumbing fixtures, number of occupants and outdoor irrigation needs.”

For more information about the application visit city hall or email city recorder Angie Lanter at alanter@cityofbanks.org.

A public hearing regarding the application will be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 during a planning commission meeting at Council Chambers, located at 13690 NW Main Street.

This article incorrectly listed the city recorder's email and has been corrected.