A neighborhood battle to keep Alton’s Tires from moving in escalated to a lawyer-versus-lawyer gambit before Spokane County Commissioners Tuesday.
Last January, the county hearing examiner denied Duane Alton’s request to rezone an eight-acre triangle of land along the Newport Highway for a tire store.
Most of the property, located between the highway and Eaton Avenue, is zoned for houses. A small corner is zoned commercial.
Alton wants the property rezoned to suit a regional business.
Attorney Jim Craven, who represents Alton, asked commissioners to overturn the hearing examiner and allow the rezoning - and the planned tire store - to move ahead.
“Do not fall prey to the unjustified fears to which the hearing examiner succumbed,” Craven urged commissioners.
In his decision, Hearing Examiner Michael Dempsey said the proposed rezoning violates the county’s comprehensive plan. Conditions in the area haven’t changed substantially since the lot was last rezoned, he said.
But Craven argued that the comprehensive plan is “flexible, a rough blueprint.”
Craven said multifamily housing on the lot would generate more traffic than the tire store. He called the neighborhood’s expert testimony “a red herring, with no scientific evidence of what might actually happen.”
Attorney Steven Eugster, representing Citizens for Neighborhood Preservation, defended Dempsey’s decision.
“The current comprehensive plan is clear. You have the wrong application before you,” Eugster told commissioners.
Alton’s plan calls for a 45,000-square-foot retail building, a 17,000-square-foot tire building and parking for 400 cars.
Eugster also discounted Alton’s plan to reduce noise from 17 tire bays with landscaping and a fence. “A tree or fence is not a transition,” he said.
Eugster finished his presentation to loud applause from neighborhood residents filling the assembly room.
Commissioners plan to announce their decision on the appeal May 27.