Landowners Sort Through Consequences Of County Urban Growth Boundaries
The urban growth boundaries have been set, but who in the Valley is a winner and who is a loser is still being debated.
Opinions on winners and losers run the gamut, from everyone outside the designated urban growth areas to everyone inside.
“When all was said and done, (Spokane County commissioners) had to make some decisions, and somebody was going to be unhappy,” said Linda Tasca, president of the Micaview Landowners Association and a non-voting member of the regional Growth Management Act steering committee.
County commissioners stretched the steering committee’s proposed urban boundaries in the Valley Tuesday to include areas in the Ponderosa, Painted Hills, Trentwood and Micaview neighborhoods. Additional land near the Spokane Industrial Park and a 5-mile wedge east of Sullivan Road between the Spokane River and Interstate 90 also was included.
The urban growth boundaries adopted Tuesday will be reviewed in about a year, after the county has developed a comprehensive plan, and can be reviewed every five years thereafter.
Mandated by state law, urban growth areas are designed to control urban sprawl, and accommodate urban growth for the next 20 years.
In the Valley, that means making room for an additional 27,000 people.
The larger urban designations provide needed additional room for residential, commercial and industrial development, said Robert Henry, a Valley resident and advertising executive who is a nonvoting member of the regional steering committee.
“Most of the adjustments the commissioners made, particularly in the Valley, made a lot of sense,” Henry said.
Among them, he said, were the inclusion of the Ponderosa and Painted Hills neighborhoods, both of which have urban characteristics. Designating additional commercial and industrial land east of the industrial park also was wise, he said.
The changes help correct deficiencies in the steering committee’s proposal that had been pointed out by the environmental impact statement, Henry said. A lack of land available for residential development topped Henry’s list of shortcomings.
“I don’t know if we got as far as we needed to get because I haven’t seen a tally of the total acreage,” he said.
Developer Richard Dahm said the urban growth boundaries are not expansive enough to accommodate 20 years worth of growth. Only stretching them to include the entire urban impact area, which encompasses most of the Valley outside of Otis Orchards, will prevent housing prices from rising artificially, he said.
“My concern is with affordable housing,” Dahm said. “These young couples today are having trouble getting affordable housing.”
Smaller boundaries limit people’s choices, Dahm said. He expects to see several appeals filed challenging the urban growth boundaries.
“People may not want to live in those areas,” Dahm said. “We can’t tell people where to live.”
Tasca and the Micaview Landowners Association were disappointed their neighborhood was included. The group lobbied successfully to keep Micaview out of the steering committee’s proposal, but was unable to convince county commissioners to exclude them.
Micaview residents will try to limit the negative impact the new urban designation will have on the neighborhood’s semi-rural flavor by asking commissioners to preserve the characteristics of the existing neighborhood, Tasca said. Many of Micaview’s residents live on one-acre lots and own large animals, such as horses and llamas.
“I believe the boundary is bigger than it needs to be, but I understand (the commissioners) wanting to err on the side of having too much land available,” Tasca said.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Liberty Lake residents got their wish to keep future growth north of the fragile lake.
About 340 residents signed a petition urging commissioners to stop future development at Sprague Avenue. Several also spoke out at public meetings.