City leaders have agreed to extensive changes to development rules along the Spokane River and Latah Creek.
Among the changes approved Monday by the Spokane City Council is an extension of the areas where construction will be outlawed. Old rules barred development 50 or 100 feet from shorelines, depending on location. The new buffer in many locations will increase from 100 to 200 feet.
Some of the shoreline rules were approved unanimously. The extension of buffers passed 5-2. Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin, who voted against the extension of buffers along with Al French, said she was concerned about the loss of property rights.
“I have not seen any kind of compelling evidence that would have me believe that the 100-foot buffer hasn’t been adequate,” she said.
The city’s shoreline legislation must be approved by the state Department of Ecology before becoming effective. State shorelines specialist Doug Pineo praised the city for the new rules but questioned some of the amendments approved Monday.
Proposals’ backers need signatures
Spokane City Council members told supporters of two ballot proposals they must collect signatures if they want their proposals to be decided by voters.
That means backers of plans to boost the minimum wage and slash utility taxes must collect about 2,700 signatures to earn spots on the November ballot.
One proposal, from the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane, would require that stores with a footprint of 95,000 square feet or more pay workers at least 135 percent of minimum wage.
The group attempted unsuccessfully to put a similar measure on the ballot in 2007.The other proposal, brought forward by former City Councilman Steve Eugster, would sharply reduce utility taxes.
Of the fees currently taxed on Spokane’s sewer, water and trash bills, 25 percent is earmarked to pay the city’s utility tax. Eugster’s plan would limit that to 6 percent unless the public voted for a higher rate.
Execution delayed; service goes on
Although the execution of Darold Stenson has been delayed, opponents of the death penalty will hold a scheduled prayer service this evening at a Browne’s Addition church.
Stenson was scheduled for execution Wednesday, and death penalty opponents had planned prayer services and vigils in Spokane and Walla Walla as protests. Most were canceled after stays were issued by two courts, but a service at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 314 S. Spruce, will go on as scheduled at 7 p.m., said Nancy Nelson, of the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane.
The state Department of Corrections canceled the execution following the state Supreme Court’s refusal Monday to lift a stay of execution.
The department said Monday evening that a new execution date will not be set for at least 90 days.
Driscoll-Ahern recount to begin
Spokane County will begin a state-mandated recount today of the legislative race between Democrat John Driscoll and Republican John Ahern.
Driscoll leads incumbent Ahern by 74 votes out of nearly 76,000 cast in the 6th Legislative District, far below the threshold of one-fourth of 1 percent to initiate a hand recount. Ballots will be sorted into precincts this morning, and the recount will begin at 1 p.m. after a half-hour training session for observers.
Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said he expects to have as many as 10 two-member teams counting ballots and has asked Democrats and Republicans to supply volunteers to observe each team. The recount should be finished by Thursday, he said.
Crash victims were Colbert residents
The two people killed in a car crash Friday near Deer Park were Michael A. Green, 20, and Jessica L. Richards, 18, both of Colbert, the Spokane County Medical Examiners Office said Monday.
Mark W. Robinson, 39, of Valley, Wash., is charged with two counts of vehicular homicide after investigators say his Dodge Ram pickup struck Richards’ 1988 Volkswagen Fox as Green was driving it at 3:45 p.m. on Short Road just south of Bridges Road, according to the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.
Robinson’s bail was set at $300,000 Monday. He remains in the Spokane County Jail.
Investigators believe alcohol and prescription medications may have played a role in the crash, sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Dave Reagan said.
Ex-firefighter pleads innocent
A former Spokane firefighter with a history of fatal and drunken driving pleaded innocent Monday to driving under the influence.
David W. Batty, 52, was charged two weeks ago in connection with a July 7 incident on U.S. Highway 2 in which a Washington State Patrol trooper described his driving as the worst he’d seen in his 13 years as a state trooper, according to the WSP report.
But Batty’s blood-alcohol content was .03 – below the .08 legal limit – and he wasn’t arrested until Nov. 14, after blood test results showed he had seven prescription drugs in his system, according to the report.
Batty joined the Spokane Fire Department in 1983 and was rehired in 1995 following a two-year prison term for vehicular homicide. He was on medical leave when he clipped the back of a van on Highway 2 in January 2007, triggering a three-car collision that killed three people.
Batty wasn’t charged in the crash and has retired from the department, officials said. He rear-ended a car near Mead on Sept. 2 but exchanged information with the driver and left before a sheriff’s deputy arrived, according to a police report.
Judge Jerome Leveque revoked Batty’s driving privileges Monday, said Doug Phelps, Batty’s lawyer.
Charge filed in fatal shooting
A 28-year-old Sagle, Idaho, man has been charged with first-degree murder in connection with the Thursday night shooting of a man at the Travel America RV Park in Sagle, according to the Bonner County Sheriff’s Department.
Details of the shooting that killed 30-year-old Elvin Holt had not been released.
When deputies arrived, they found Holt, of Samuels, Idaho, who had suffered a gunshot wound. He died at the scene, Sheriff Elaine Savage said in a press release issued Monday.
After investigating, deputies arrested 28-year-old James Anderson, of Sagle.
He was being held Monday at the Bonner County Jail, Savage said. Anderson’s bail was set at $500,000.
The investigation was ongoing, Savage said.