When long-awaited urban growth boundaries were set last week by Spokane County commissioners, neighborhood reaction ranged from sighs of relief, to a cautious wait-and-see, to frustration.
The growth management process is really just starting. Next, the county and city begin writing comprehensive plans detailing the type of development that can occur in the rural and urban areas.
Neighborhood organizers will be watching closely.
Karen Barniol’s group, made up primarily of Camelot and College Place residents, is working to stop rezoning efforts by Wal-Mart and Alton’s Tires that would allow heavy commercial development next door to their homes.
“I hope they were very careful to leave enough commercial in the urban area so they won’t have to come through now and reclassify areas,” she said.
“I can’t be critical of how the boundaries were drawn, I was watching, not advocating,” she said.
But Barniol expects to become more involved in the next phase of the process and expects others will be, too.
Martha Schaefer, a founder of Friends of the Little Spokane River Valley, said most of her group is happy with the way the boundaries turned out.
“The boundaries are very close to what we proposed,” she said.
They probably left even more outside than we asked for,” she added. “Everyone is trying to work so hard with the county and I feel the county is being responsive to neighborhood groups,” she said.
Pine River Estates, a treed subdivision, north of Wandermere Golf Course near the Little Spokane River, landed inside the urban growth area. Pine River Estates resident Terri Pipes is frustrated.
“We are living with bad planning from 30 years ago,” Pipes said. “This neighborhood never should have been built - and now it’s OK to have new apartments?”
Some argue that including Pine River inside the boundary will put the houses on a priority list for sewers. Pipes said maybe that’s true for new housing, but she said there are no plans to sewer existing homes.
“We could keep the density down and protect the river,” she said.
Others are amazed their fast-growing neighborhoods were left outside the urban boundary.
Doug Metcalfe’s license plate reads “A NIMBY.” The Five Mile Prairie activist said seeing his community remain outside the growth area is a “miracle of some sort.”
He said he fell in love with the area in 1968, at the time it was zoned agriculture. He bought in 1987 and was told there were no plans to subdivide the land around him.
In 1991, he says the area was rezoned to allow 3.5 homes per acre. Development was off and running.
Now, learning that heavily-platted Five Mile Prairie is outside the urban growth boundaries, is surprising.
“I’m suspicious,” he said.