A hearings officer has decided that the city of Cheney can build a 3.5 mile recreation trail this summer, ruling that the project has undergone adequate environmental analysis.
Cheney property owners Mitch and Donald Smith challenged the trail since it will be built along Minnie Creek, which flows from Cheney toward their property four miles away.
Greg Smith, who is Spokane’s hearings officer, heard testimony last month on the trail at a public hearing.
On Friday, Greg Smith - who is not related to Donald or Mitch Smith - ruled that Cheney officials have met state standards in determining if the trail will cause water or erosion problems along Minnie Creek.
The federal government will give Cheney almost $500,000 for the asphalt trail. Once built this fall, it will run between the city’s waste treatment plant and Fish Lake.
Ultimately, Spokane officials plan to connect that trail with one it’s planning from the city’s west side to Fish Lake.
In time, riders, bikers or hikers can travel from North Idaho to Cheney entirely on paved trails.
Greg Smith said that Cheney officials still must comply with six conditions set by the state Department of Ecology that cover water quality and bank erosion along the trail.
Cheney officials must replace any vegetation that the trail disrupts and control erosion, the ecology department has said.
Mitch Smith and his father said the paved trail will lead to higher sedimentation that will end up harming Queen Lucas Lake, which is a half mile north of Fish Lake. The Smiths own that lake.
Greg Smith said, instead, that Cheney officials are correct in assuming that runoff in the spring will not be as high as in years past, since the city is also building an underground effluent pipe alongside the trail.
That pipe will collect water treated at the sewage plant and direct it to a drainage field, not into Minnie Creek as the city has done for years.
The pipe system, also expected to be done later this year, should reduce the water flow in Minnie Creek, Smith agreed.
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