Developer Drops One Plan, Raises New Controversy
A Spokane developer has scrapped plans to build dozens of houses near a semi-rural Greenacres neighborhood in favor of a 136-unit mobile home park, angering residents who also fought the original project.
Members of the Micaview Landowners Association are worried the new proposal, which is scheduled for review by the county Planning Department beginning later this month, will squeeze them out of the decision-making process.
The application developer Richard Dahm filed with the county proposing to build the mobile home park, called Strawberry Ridge, on a 39-acre alfalfa field at Eighth Avenue and Long Road does not require a public hearing. It contends there is limited public interest.
That’s intentional, Micaview Landowners Association members said.
Two years ago, county commissioners heard five hours of heated debate over the 101-home Turtle Creek proposal, which was planned for the same triangle of land as the trailer park. An appeal of Turtle Creek had kept the project in limbo since the 1994 meeting, and was awaiting another public hearing when Dahm discarded it.
Micaview residents won an appeal before the county commissioners earlier this month, successfully reversing a zoning change the county hearing examiner had granted to Dahm for Morningside Heights, an adjacent development.
The same day the Micaview Landowners Association got word of that decision, they received notice of the Strawberry Ridge development. Now, they have until Tuesday to submit written comments to fight Dahm’s newest proposal.
“Basically, one man is holding this neighborhood hostage,” said Pam Bendix, whose front window would look out at the proposed trailer park.
Dahm did not return a message left with his development company.
Spokane County planner John Todd, who is collecting comments on Dahm’s application, said he has no doubt the developer is trying to follow the path of least resistance. However, concerned residents will have their say, Todd said.
“That’s why we go out with the (neighborhood) notifications, so they can catch those things and ask for a hearing,” he said.
Micaview landowners can force a public hearing by appealing the environmental determination that is due to be released after the public comment period ends, Todd said.
But Micaview residents said they shouldn’t have to appeal. A decision on a development the size of Strawberry Ridge should not be made until elected officials have the chance to hear from both sides.
“Given what’s going on, this ought to be treated like Turtle Creek was,” Linda Tasca said. “We need to have an open public hearing.”
Several of Tasca’s neighbors said public services currently offered will not support either the mobile home park or the Turtle Creek development, and both high-density projects contradict the neighborhood’s semirural characteristics.
“People are still raising (large) animals here,” neighbor Lydia Clifton said. “It has always been this kind of country.”
Vicki Sellers, Micaview Landowners Association secretary, said residents who could end up living next to the mobile home park want a chance to be heard like “the guy who doesn’t live out here and buys however many acres.”
Added Ned Bowen, “What we have always asked for - and will continue to ask for - is responsible growth.”