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Council gets look at Special Area Plan

Sat., July 11, 2009

After a year of discussion and negotiation, the Liberty Lake City Council got its first look at a Special Area Plan for the River District north of Interstate 90.

The plan was submitted in July 2008 by Greenstone Corp., which is developing the land. The land is owned by Centennial Properties, a subsidiary of Cowles Co., which also owns Cowles Publishing Co., publisher of The Spokesman-Review. The plan addresses everything from street widths to parks and has been under review by the Planning Commission for months.

The plan establishes a framework for the district’s development, said Greenstone representative Mike Terrell in a presentation to the council this week. “We identified a number of things important to us,” he said.

The goal is to create a “compact, complete community” that is walkable. The SAP asks for several deviations from the city’s comprehensive plan, including denser zoning, narrower street widths and the location of stormwater swales. Greenstone has been negotiating with the city staff over those items, but the company and city have been unable to reach an agreement on 12 issues. It will be up to the council to cast the deciding vote.

The 12 items include building orientation, maximum parking, sign standards and zoning. The issue getting the most attention since the plan was submitted is parks. The city wants at least one large park in that area. Greenstone’s plan calls for an eight-acre community park, two five-acre neighborhood parks and two pocket parks.

“We believe it’s not necessary to have a 20- or a 50- or a 100-acre park to have ballfields,” Terrell said.

The city’s comprehensive plan and parks plan refer to a community park as being at least 10 acres. Terrell said Greenstone is willing to negotiate on the size of the parks. “This is a minimum park plan that we’re proposing,” he said. “We are willing, at any time, to discuss additions to any of those facilities.”

There seems to be a catch, however. Minutes from the April 8 and May 13 Planning Commission meetings indicate that if the city wants the proposed parks to be larger, the city would have to buy the land to do it.

The council will continue to discuss the Special Area Plan and could hold a final vote in October.

In other business, the City Council approved the appointment of Frank Raney as a voting member of the Planning Commission. Jason Adelmann, who unsuccessfully applied for the council seat vacated by Brian Sayrs and is running against council member Odin Langford in the November election, had applied for an adjunct position on the commission. He was nominated for the Planning Commission position Tuesday by council member Neal Olander, but no one seconded the motion and the nomination failed.

An ordinance to set up an independent salary commission was on the agenda, but it was tabled in the absence of council members Judi Owens, Patrick Jenkins and Dave Crump.

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