Spokane County commissioners have rejected a developer’s plan to put 10 houses on land at Long Lake.
Tuesday’s decision settles - for now - what will happen to part of the land that was owned by the late Len Miotke, a fisherman and conservationist who led efforts to clean up the Spokane River reservoir.
Family members were split over whether the scenic property should be developed into home sites or preserved in large chunks.
Without the rezoning requested by developer Jim Schofield, the 56 acres probably can be developed into no more than three or four lots, including the one on which Schofield’s home sits. The land, which is zoned for 10-acre lots, includes at least 16 acres that are under water, said Louis Webster of the county planning department.
Schofield planned to split the developable land into six shoreline lots and four others, ranging from 1 to 6 acres each. He calls his proposed development Sportsman’s Paradise.
The plan included enough open space for deer, Western bluebirds and other wildlife to satisfy the state Department of Fish and Wildlife. But the state Department of Ecology worried the development would destroy nearby wetlands that are important nesting sites for waterfowl.
Last year, County Hearing Examiner Mike Dempsey approved Sportsman’s Paradise. Residents from the sparsely settled area south of the Spokane River appealed that decision to commissioners, who overturned Dempsey’s decision this week.
Commissioner John Roskelley called Schofield’s request “one of the more complicated land-use decisions I’ve seen.”
Roskelley said he probably would approve the project if Schofield returns with a plan for no more than three lots along the shoreline and seven lots total. Roskelley also said he would require a community sewer system for the development, rather than individual septic tanks as proposed.
Contacted Wednesday, Schofield said he hasn’t had enough time to consider whether to change his proposal or appeal the commissioners’ decision in court.
Commissioner Phil Harris, who lives near the proposed development, abstained from voting.
Miotke sued the city of Spokane in 1977 after learning it routinely was flushing millions of gallons of raw sewage into the river upstream. In 1980, a judge banned continued dumping and awarded $369,000 to Miotke and neighbors who had joined the suit.
In the late 1980s, Miotke helped persuade local officials to ban laundry detergents with phosphates, which contributed to algae blooms on the reservoir.
After his death, two of Miotke’s children wanted to sell the land to Schofield for development. But two others, who live on adjacent 20-acre parcels, opposed development of Sportsman’s Paradise.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map of area