Spokane county commissioners voted Tuesday to postpone a decision on an out-of-state development company’s plan to build a $5.4 million shopping center at the southeast corner of Highway 27 and 32nd Avenue.
Farallon Real Estate Services, based in San Francisco, sought a rezone of a seven-acre parcel from residential to commercial. Hearing examiner Michael Dempsey denied the company’s request in December.
The developer appealed Dempsey’s decision to the commissioners.
Farallon’s attorney, Stan Schultz, asked commissioners Tuesday to think of the project with a “fairly common sense approach.”
The rate of residential development in the surrounding area would support the shopping center, said Schultz, referring to a survey Farallon commissioned Robinson Research of Spokane to conduct.
Steve Eugster, the attorney representing residents who live close to the proposed complex, said one of the reasons Farallon has chosen this particular site is because it’s cost beneficial.
“They say, ‘It’s cheaper for us to put our money there than where commercial facilities already exist,”’ he said.
Until recently, the land the center would be built on was used for growing alfalfa, residents said. If the property can’t remain undeveloped, they said they’d prefer homes be built there.
Those residents formed the South East Valley Residential Association, now with 500 active members, to fight Farallon’s plan to build the complex, which would include an Albertsons grocery store, a fast-food restaurant with a drive-through window, a bank and a small shopping strip.
Residents’ main concerns focused on the amount of traffic the complex would funnel through their neighborhood.
“I don’t know why they can’t take a hint that we don’t want them here,” said Don Erickson, president of the association.
If the project is approved, Farallon will pitch in money for the installation of a traffic light at the intersection - known by residents and state troopers as a dangerous and deadly one.
Farallon has developed shopping centers in California, Oregon and Texas, as well as Coeur d’Alene. It is currently building another center in Post Falls.
Commissioners will accept written testimony from the public until Monday and will issue their decision by April 14.
Association members said they will file an appeal in Spokane County Superior Court if the commissioners approve the project. Schultz said Farallon’s owners have not decided whether they would file an appeal if the commissioners reject the project.
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