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Planning panel discusses Valley zoning

The first draft of the map that will decide what can be built where in Spokane Valley drew a crowd of about 40 to the Planning Commission’s meeting Thursday, with some testifying that new zoning will restrict their business prospects and others condemning proposals to reduce the size of residential lots.

While the public hearing addressed where the city’s new zones will apply, the rules surrounding how development occurs in those zones is now before the City Council.

“Our recommendation regarding lot size now is beyond us,” said Chairwoman Gail Kogle.

A majority on the commission had recommended that most neighborhoods retain lots roughly a quarter-acre in size, minimum.

The council, though, tentatively changed the code to allow for six or seven houses per acre, provoking irate testimony from many residents at last week’s council meeting.

Many in Thursday’s crowd left or decided not to speak after hearing that the commission was no longer considering the density of new development.

Others brought concerns about how the new zoning would apply to commercial areas.

“I am very disappointed that there are not more light-industrial areas on the zoning map,” said Jim Huttenmaier of Greater Spokane Incorporated.

Many low-impact manufacturers are looking for a place to set up shop outside of a heavy industrial setting, he said.

In response, associate planner Mike Basinger said the new mixed-use zone allows many light-industrial uses.

The zone would permit a blend of businesses, offices and high-density housing and would break up the long strip of retail that surrounds Sprague Avenue.

However, a representative from the Pinecroft Business Park near Mirabeau Park, as well as the owner of the Nut Factory on I-90, said the proposed mixed-use zoning would restrict many of the business activities present in those areas now.

After the hearing, the Planning Commission had been scheduled to deliberate potential changes in the map. But commissioners voted to postpone the discussion until they had a better idea of whether or not the City Council would allow the quarter-acre residential zone.


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