Glenrose Prairie residents put on their party hats a bit too soon during Monday night’s Spokane City Council meeting.
About 50 residents burst into applause and hurrahs when the council voted down a motion by Councilman Joel Crosby to annex 212 acres of the pastoral prairie. Minutes later, as the residents poured out of council chambers, Councilman Chris Anderson called them back.
The council passed Crosby’s second motion and about 100 acres of Glenrose Prairie inched closer to becoming part of the city.
“What just happened?” a dazed prairie resident asked Steve Eugster, attorney for the Glenrose Homeowners’ Association.
“It was a half-win,” Eugster said with a laugh.
Council members voted 4-3 to annex a section of Glenrose Prairie that lies to the west of a faint ridge running north to south, then jogging east to take in developer Al Payne’s property. Payne spearheaded the annexation.
The Glenrose annexation is one of the city’s first that could actually change the zoning of an area from rural to urban. The proposal now moves on to the Boundary Review Board for another hearing.
Land to the east of the north-south boundary will remain in unincorporated Spokane, where it is zoned for lots of five acres or larger. On land within the proposed annexation area, 17 homes would be allowed for every five acres.
Although the city’s Plan Commission favored the ill-defined dividing line passed by the council, opponents and proponents had criticized it as a poor boundary.
Irv Reed, the city’s Director of Planning Services, said no roads or utility lines existed to serve as reference points.
“I guess you’d have to go out and walk it,” Reed said.
Mayor Jack Geraghty and council members Anderson and Orville Barnes voted against annexing the area.
Geraghty cautioned that a city in the throes of growth management planning shouldn’t be extending its borders.
“We should establish growth areas and then work with the people and then go forward,” he said. “All annexation must in effect be put on hold for the time being.”
In fact, the council next week will discuss setting a deadline after which no annexations will be considered so that urban boundaries can be set.
Two weeks ago, about 100 people argued the merits of the proposed annexation. The majority weren’t happy with the prospect of joining the city. They argued that annexation jeopardizes wildlife, rural values and open areas on the prairie.
Proponents, led by developer Payne, said the area just 10 minutes from downtown is perfect for urban development.
While much of the area remains undeveloped, county commissioners have allowed a few housing developments along the western edge where city sewer and water are available.
“This will radically change our pastoral area - without any citizen input,” said Joan Smith, a member of the homeowners’ association and one of several residents wearing pink placards that said “No annexation.”
“We’re totally against that. I think they should have gone with their first motion,” said Smith, referring to the first vote that denied annexing any part of the prairie.
Residents with questions about the annexation boundary can call the city Planning Department at 625-6060.
Also Monday, the council agreed to put a measure on November’s ballot that would dedicate one-tenth of 1 percent of the city’s general fund to the spaying and neutering of dogs and cats.
LaVerne Kettlety gathered about 3,000 signatures on a petition aimed at getting the measure to voters. If they pass the measure, about $100,000 each year would be set aside for spaying and neutering.
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