February 5, 2009 in Washington Voices

Annexation would enlarge Airway Heights

Proposed parcel includes Wal-Mart, UGA
Jeslyn Lemke Correspondent
 

Airway Heights may soon grow by a half-square mile as the city works its way through an annexation agreement with the city of Spokane.

Both cities are considering an annexation that would divide much of the West Plains between them, leaving Spokane with almost 10 square miles, including Spokane International Airport.

Airway Heights stands to gain tax-rich Wal-Mart, and the roughly 1,500 residents who live in that half-square mile, commonly referred to as the Urban Growth Area.

This land is directly along city borders and has boomed in business and residential growth during the past few years. Airway Heights provides some of the services for people here, although Spokane and Spokane County are the main providers.

If the annexation passes, Airway Heights would gain the taxes from Wal-Mart and any new businesses going in but will also provide most of the public services to people in that area.

Airway Heights has been working with people in the UGA for a long time and Mayor Matthew Pederson said they are considering the annexation largely because owners there have called for one.

Dick Vandervert, owner of one of the biggest construction companies in the Inland Northwest, owns about 18 percent of the land in the UGA. Vandervert is interested in developing more of the land into commerical use and has talked with Airway Heights about a possible annexation so he can continue with development plans.

Airway Heights held a public forum in August, asking citizens what they’d like to see on the UGA.

Pederson noted on Feb. 2 that the annexation is still in preliminary discussions. The final decision will be in the hands of the Spokane County Boundary Review Board, because the county has jurisdiction over all the land involved.

If the annexation goes through, Spokane would first annex all of the land in question to itself, and then quickly de-annex that half-square mile back to Airway Heights.

“Most of those folks already consider themselves to be in the city of Airway Heights, and they see this as a logical course of action,” said city manager Albert Tripp.

Airway Heights tried unsuccessfully to annex the same piece of land in 2003 but was denied by the Boundary Review Board. A year earlier, Spokane had tried to annex an even larger portion of the West Plains and was also unsuccessful.

Contact correspondent Jeslyn Lemke by e-mail at jlemke12@yahoo.com.


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