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Frustrated developer requests annexation

Sat., July 12, 2008

County thwarted apartment expansion

Developer Dick Vandervert, his plans to expand a West Plains apartment complex frustrated by Spokane County, on Thursday petitioned for annexation into the city of Airway Heights.

He said Airway Heights officials have assured him they will approve multifamily zoning that will allow him to proceed with the second phase of the Deer Creek Apartments on Flight Drive, a spur off U.S. Highway 2. Spokane County Hearing Examiner Mike Dempsey last week denied Vandervert a conditional use permit for construction.

Although he will appeal the decision in Spokane County Superior Court, Vandervert said, “I really don’t like wasting my time with attorneys and judges and courts.”

Partner Lowell McKee said they have invested $22 million in Deer Creek. Phase 1 includes 156 units, as well as a pool and other recreation facilities sized to accommodate tenants of the 124 units planned for Phase 2. Costs also included roads, water and sewer lines, and other infrastructure.

Revenues from Phase 1 will not be enough to recoup all the money invested, McKee said.

Phase 1 was permitted before a ban was imposed on residential construction because local government and business officials feared the futures of Fairchild Air Force Base and Spokane International Airport might be jeopardized. Vandervert has said he did not seek a permit for Phase 2 because he was told approval would be a formality when he was ready to proceed.

Airway Heights Mayor Matthew Pederson said officials are anxious to annex the area. But a rezoning to accommodate the expansion of Deer Creek is not a given, he said.

Pederson noted the city had opposed the rezone that allowed Phase 1 to go forward, but added, “We now have a problem we need a solution to.”

A petitioner’s property must constitute at least 10 percent of the assessed valuation in the proposed annexation, a threshold Vandervert meets. Approval requires consent from the owners of 60 percent of valuation in the area to be annexed.

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