Highlands buys water hook-ups before costs increase

Taking advantage of a sun break, workers poured footings recently for Snowberry Close, one of two Ross Chapin-designed cottage clusters at the Highlands at Langley.  - Photo courtesy of The Highlands
Taking advantage of a sun break, workers poured footings recently for Snowberry Close, one of two Ross Chapin-designed cottage clusters at the Highlands at Langley.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of The Highlands

Construction of cottages set to be finished in fall

Developers of The Highlands snapped up more than a dozen water hook-ups before the city of Langley’s new water hook-up fees went into effect late last year.

Officials from the company building The Highlands, the largest subdivision in the city’s history, said they purchased 17 hook-ups in advance so future homeowners would not be burdened with higher home prices.

The connection charge for new hook-ups went up significantly, from $4,700 to $11,675 in December. While city hall drew criticism for the increase, Langley officials said the increase — along with a raise in water rates — was necessary to pay for rising costs and water system improvements.

The increased cost was a factor, said Nancy Bartlett, spokeswoman for The Highlands.

The Highlands bought the 17 hook-ups at the old price of $4,700, and in January, the price went up to $6,444.

The next increase will come in May to $8188. In September, the fee will jump to $9,932 and in January 2009, the fee will be 11,675.

“It was kind of a surprise when prices got raised,” she said.

The developers had to act quickly as they have 53 homes at various stages in the permit process. However, they could only purchase hook-ups for roughly one third of the homes.

“The water hook-ups can only be purchased after the building permit is issued,” Bartlett said. “So, we purchased the ones for the 17 cottages in Snowberry Close and Clover Court that we are currently building.”

Construction is well underway. Workers poured footings recently for Snowberry Close and Clover Court, two of the Ross Chapin-designed cottage clusters at the Highlands.

In about two weeks, framing will begin on some of the cottages. With the official start of construction, cottages are on track for completion this fall.

Work also continues on Fairgrounds Road.

The Highlands is also a model project for “low-impact development,” building techniques used to lessen the environmental impact of new housing.

As Whidbey Island’s first “low-impact development” neighborhood, the Highlands will get a visit from the Skagit Conservation District later this week. The district will bring 47 students of “low-impact development” to Langley for a field trip Friday.

The participants are government employees, engineers, developers and others. The Highland’s contractor, Rick Almberg, will give a tour of the project site with Chapin, the architect for the Highlands.

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