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Restrictions near Felts Field to be examined

The Spokane Valley City Council indicated it would revisit restrictions on subdividing residential land near Felts Field where several landowners paid for extra sewer hookups only to be told they couldn’t develop their lots.

At its meeting Tuesday, the council asked the city’s legal counsel to round up the city’s options and liabilities when it comes to rules for a specially designated area around the airport.

“I think it’s a safety factor,” said Councilman Rich Munson as he asked City Attorney Mike Connelly to elaborate on the city’s legal liability and on what development restrictions are required by state and federal law.

The rules aren’t black and white, Connelly said.

Cities aren’t necessarily restricted from building in a crash zone, Connelly said, but state and federal regulators ultimately decide whether airports can continue to operate if they are next to densely populated area. He said he would report back to the council on the city’s options for modifying the rules that went into effect last year.

They restricted residential development near the airport to one house for every 2 1/2 acres. At the last hearing on the city’s new uniform development code, homeowners said they hadn’t been notified of the change and that several had paid for expensive utility hookups under the assumption that they could build to densities outlined by the neighborhood’s zoning.

A board member of a water district also said the rules will affect the local water purveyor because its long-term plans counted on the revenue from the new hookups.

The council decided to keep the airport restrictions in place for now as it overhauls the city’s entire collection of development regulations, but agreed to review the issue again in the future.


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