The Spokane Valley City Council tentatively adopted criteria Tuesday that developers must meet for zone changes. The rules would give meaning to the city’s new zoning for single-family residential areas, which have consistently been built at higher densities because rezones are so easy to get.
The council’s action followed a compromise that planners fleshed out last week for the city’s contentious new zoning map, proposing more tightly built subdivisions for some neighborhoods while preserving large lots in others.
Planning commissioners on Thursday huddled over a map of the Spokane Valley, drawing lines around large swaths of the city. They debated which residential areas should be zoned for the 10,000-square-foot lots that the City Council tentatively reinstated after dozens of people angrily opposed a proposal to allow 6,000- or 7,500-square-foot lots in most of the city. City leaders have been laying out how open pastures and multiple-acre lots from the Valley’s rural past should transition into city neighborhoods.
Most residential areas south of Sixth Avenue would be left as they are, with many zoned for quarter-acre lots. Development in most neighborhoods north of Sixth Avenue would be allowed at about six houses per acre, with the exception of the neighborhood east of Felts Field.
“Looking at this map you can see that there’s room” for infill, said Planning Commissioner and City Council candidate David Crosby, who made most of the motions that led discussion on the map.
In the Greenacres neighborhood, residents have fought denser building for years and even won an area-wide rezone to about four houses per acre, only to see most of the open land divided at higher densities anyway because zone changes were so easy to acquire. Members of the commission compromised on Greenacres, allowing a portion of the neighborhood bounded by Mission Avenue, the Spokane River and Barker Road to retain quarter-acre lots. South of Mission would be zoned for 7,500-square-foot-minimum lots, while land east of Barker could develop into 6,000-square-foot lots.
The council has the final say on the development code. Council members didn’t discuss the zoning map at their meeting Tuesday, but they will take it up at a special meeting 6 p.m. tonight. A public hearing on the entire development code takes place at the council meeting 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The Planning Commission voted 4-1 on the latest version of the zoning map, with Commissioner Fred Beaulac dissenting.
He said the city should notify property owners in the places where the zoning will change.
“I don’t think they realized they were in play,” he said.