This spring, houses will grow along Desert Sky Drive and Cottonwood Drive as construction ramps up in Desert Sky Estates.

Monday evening, the Hermiston City Council approved the second phase of the subdivision, and that plan will transform 22 acres of land along the west side of South First Street — south of the railroad — into nine lots, each about 9,000 square feet. An additional 10th lot, larger than the other parcels, will remain for future development.

The first phase of the project, approved in January 2010, will also break ground soon with custom lots.

“We’re excited. We think we’re going to fill some of the town’s needs in a nice location,” developer Paul Burns said Tuesday. “We’re trying to fill two needs here, one where people want a view and a custom lot and one where we’re giving people a really nice home at a good value.”

The homes in the second phase, which will begin construction in “early spring,” will cost between $150,000 and $180,000, he said.

When complete, Desert Sky Estates will include about 90 lots, including the 13 lots included in phase one. Of those custom lots, six are still available for purchase.

“These are lots where people can buy them, choose their own building and builder and build their own house,” Burns said. “Most people are buying those and are going to build their home after their current home sells, so there will be some houses starting up there soon. There are some great lots left, though. There’s one custom lot at the top that probably has the best view in town.”

Also during the meeting:

• Council met in executive session to discuss a tort claim notice filed in September by officer Doug Smith. The claim, sent to Hermiston police chief Dan Coulombe, mayor Bob Severson and city attorney Gary Luisi, notified them of his intent to sue for damages, claiming misconduct in the police department. Specifically, Smith said he was ordered by a superior to alter an investigation report to protect certain individuals.

Luisi confirmed that the city hired an independent investigator to look into Smith’s charges. The investigator, Luisi said, reported the charges unfounded.

Smith has a year to decide whether to actually file a lawsuit.

• Ixtapa Mexican Restaurant, 115 E. Oregon Ave., received approval on its liquor license application to provide on-premise alcohol sales.

• Council confirmed DuWayne White, Mary Corp and Eric Carpenter to the Budget Committee. Don Rankin and Eric Reise were confirmed to the Recreation Projects Fund Advisory Committee.

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