The controversial housing development known as “The Village” — a proposed large-scale apartment complex just north of Arcata Elementary — is back. At Tuesday night’s meeting the Arcata City Council voted unanimously to move forward with a review of the revised project.

After coming before the council many times, the project failed to gain the votes needed for approval at the last meeting in August 2018. Councilmembers Susan Ornelas and Brett Watson felt they could not approve the project as proposed at the time, particularly due to concerns with the housing being for students only.

The developers have now submitted a revised version of the plans, which includes a mix of student housing and open market units. Additionally, the new design is larger than the most recent version and includes solar panels and a children’s park for a more family-friendly atmosphere, among other changes.

David Moon, president of Coleraine Capital Group, one of the groups working on the development, explained that the developers had really taken the suggestions of the council and the community into consideration for the new design.

“We’re appreciative of the collaboration,” Moon said. “We think through that collaboration we now have a project that we are certainly proud to present and I think long term we can all be proud of.”

Moon also mentioned that the developers were unable to commit to making the changes at the last meeting because of their partnership with Humboldt State University at the time. HSU administration had agreed to manage the housing complex, a commitment that can only be made if the project was student-only housing. HSU is no longer involved in the project.

From the revised plans on the City of Arcata’s website.

But the new changes have not been enough to win over some of the skeptics. Of the 15 community members who commented at last night’s meeting, the majority were still against the proposed project.

Eric Jules of the Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing said that he was happy to see the developers had included open-market units, but was not happy with the increase in size.

“I’m genuinely hoping we’re going to find a place where we can build something here that everyone can live with,” Jules said. “But unfortunately this development isn’t that. As so many people have said, the numbers have gone up and that’s not what I was expecting.”

Keenan Hilton of the Coalition for Responsible Transportation Priorities was one of the few people to speak in favor of the project because of the need for student housing.

“I am, broadly speaking, for development of high-density housing,” Hilton said. “Let’s have a place that can actually fit a bunch of students.”  Hilton also felt that the proximity of the Village to HSU would help ensure that fewer students rely on vehicles, an important consideration for climate change.

The council decided that the new project is worth keeping open to consideration, although some council members were still not completely won over by the new design and had concerns about the size.

“We consider ourselves kind of rural,” Councilmember Ornelas said. “So this is hard for us to digest.”

The project will need to go through further review before it can move forward. The council also directed the Planning Commission to consider vacating St. Louis Road during development, a step necessary for the project to move forward.

You can view the full meeting here.