A Spokane County judge has overturned a controversial annexation on Glenrose Prairie just below Browne Mountain.
The decision could derail plans by developers to turn about 100 acres of the semirural prairie into home sites.
Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza on Monday granted a request for summary judgment brought by opponents of the annexation.
Cozza said the annexation violates the intent of the state’s 1990 Growth Management Act.
Spokane County came under the requirements of the law in 1993, but a new comprehensive land-use plan and zoning code is still being written.
The City Council approved the annexation in July 1995.
At the time, the county’s land-use plan called for maintaining lots of at least five acres in the semirural portions of the proposed annexation.
Cozza said the city was obliged to follow the county’s existing comprehensive plan in order to comply with the Growth Management Act.
“It makes sense to believe that the Legislature did not intend cities to proceed willy-nilly to achieve annexation and urban development so as to beat the impending growth management deadlines,” Cozza said.
Earlier this year, county commissioners established interim growth boundaries and placed the proposed annexation property outside the urban area.
The lawsuit challenging the annexation was brought by the Glenrose Community Association, which has about 170 families as members. They are trying to preserve the character of the prairie.
“We are extremely happy to stop that annexation effort,” said Dick Boge, a leader in the association. “We are trying to have a hand in how (the prairie) develops.”
“The annexation violated the comprehensive plan of Spokane County, and the city tried to circumvent application of the GMA,” said Steve Eugster, attorney for the Glenrose association.
Defendants in the lawsuit are the city of Spokane and several property owners in the area who supported the annexation.
The property owners named as defendants in the lawsuit are Edward “Al” Payne, Dale Bright, Deanna Bright, Cathy Ramm, D.L. Calkins Jr., Ann Oelert and Carl Bernson.
Payne acted as the chief proponent for the group. He was not immediately available for comment on Cozza’s decision. The group’s attorney, Stan Schultz, also was not available.
In the past, Payne has said the proposed annexation makes sense because it is adjacent to homes already served by city utilities. He also said he believes he has a right to develop his property.
Payne and other supporters initially sought to include 212 acres in the city, but the city Plan Commission cut the area to about 100 acres.
The Muirfield and Echo Glen subdivisions, which are just outside the city limits, were built several years ago under approval from the county.