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Sports complex decision expected by month’s end

Baseball may be America’s pastime, but contentious debate could be a close second.

Supporters and opponents of a south Spokane sports complex filled the assembly room in the Spokane County Public Works Building on Wednesday as the hearing examiner listened to arguments for and against grading an 18.5-acre property on the southeast corner of 37th Avenue and Glenrose Road.

Mike Dempsey’s decision, expected by the end of the month, will likely determine whether Spokane South Little League buys the property from the Morning Star Foundation for a multifield baseball and football complex on property zoned urban reserve just outside the county’s urban growth boundaries.

In October, the county Building and Planning Department approved grading the property as the first step toward building the estimated $4.5 million project. Appealing that decision is the Glenrose Community Association, a group of local residents who believe the project will damage the pastoral nature of their neighborhood.

The Glenrose area, just southeast of Spokane, has been largely spared development because until this year, the Morning Star Boys’ Ranch owned 222 mostly vacant acres in the heart of the bowl-shaped valley.

Most of that property was transferred in April to the Morning Star Foundation, which is run by former professional football player and investment manager Joe Pickert, who at the time was director of both the ranch and the foundation.

On Wednesday, county project coordinator Dawn Dompier presented a report to the hearing examiner discounting most of the association’s complaints that a sports complex would significantly increase noise, traffic and storm water runoff.