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City Council considers zoning changes

MONDAY, MAY 8, 2006

Spokane City Council members are poised to adopt the first revision to the city’s residential zoning code in 48 years, but not before considering a series of changes, including one to allow offices in some apartment zones.

If adopted, the new code will provide detailed rules under the city’s switch several years ago to a centers-and-corridors approach to land use as required by the state’s growth management law. The changes seek to increase housing density by allowing smaller lot sizes and encouraging new types of housing, including accessory dwelling units in single-family zones.

The proposal calls for cottage-style housing, attached housing and row houses. The new code would allow lots as small as 2,500 square feet in multifamily zones and 4,350 feet in single-family zones. Single-family home lots now run from about 7,200 to 10,000 square feet or larger.

The council convenes at 6 tonight in Council Chambers at City Hall. The session will be televised on Cable Channel 5.

Last week, council members got a look at a series of amendments being sought. Developers are asking for a provision to allow gates at the fronts of planned-unit developments. Gates have not been allowed in the city in recent years.

Also, representatives of the development industry have asked for a change to allow offices in multifamily and high-density apartment zones along arterial streets. City planning staffers have recommended sending the proposal to the Plan Commission for study prior to a City Council vote.

The development industry also is opposed to provisions requiring a transition row of medium-sized lots next to existing larger lots. Small lots would be allowed only to the inside of the transition row of medium-sized lots. The transition reduces the potential number of lots for any new development, and developers said it is unnecessary.

Residents who are concerned about rapid residential growth in northwest Spokane have sought the transition areas.

The development industry also is seeking to allow medical centers in high-density residential zones without a conditional use permit, and affordable duplex units in single-family residential zones.

Other proposed amendments would raise the heights of garages to accommodate taller vehicles such as motor homes with air conditioning units. Residents living in an area near Ninth Avenue and Madison Street are seeking a change from multifamily to single-family zoning. They testified before the council last month that older mansions in the area have been converted back from apartments to single-family residences, justifying the change.


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