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Airway Heights building, planning fees to rise

Increase will be phased in over two years

The Airway Heights City Council unanimously passed a resolution increasing many of its building and planning fees Monday. Because some of the fees will rise significantly, City Manager Albert Tripp said changes are being implemented in two stages. The first will take place at the start of 2010 and the second in January 2011.

In another item, council approval was requested for an agreement between the city and the Los Angeles-based development group Shebourne 26, providing for future annexation and a covenant upon more than 100 acres of land west of the city and south of U.S. Highway 2.

Representatives for the company approached the council last year to ask if the city could annex the land from the county so that it might more easily be developed for mixed commercial use. Because Airway Heights has long been focused on annexing a portion of land east of the city, however, the proposal was put on hold.

The purpose of Monday’s agreement was to authorize the extension of water and sewer to the property and to allow for a no-protest agreement from Airway Heights so that Shebourne can move toward requesting a zone change from the county with no interference from the city.

A Shebourne company representative said there are no immediate plans to develop the property until zoning restrictions are resolved.

City attorney Stanley Schwartz said the proposal was designed to act as a bridge so that the process can get under way before the annexation east of the city is finalized.

Mayor Matthew Pederson expressed worry that an as-yet unspecified public safety impact fee to be paid by Shebourne before annexation could set a precedent and should be studied further.

After much debate and one dissenting vote from Pederson, the agreement was passed.

The council also authorized an agreement with the state Department of Ecology for the receipt of nearly $23 million to fund Phase 1 B of the city’s Advanced Wastewater Reclamation Facility. Tripp said $14.1 million will come as a federal stimulus fund grant and $8.8 million will arrive in the form of loans which will be paid back from revenues generated by the facility.

Roughly $9 million needs to be secured for the second phase of the project and Tripp said the city is pursuing rural development grants to cover the gap.

Public works director Brian St. Clair said the first phase of the project is well under way and should be finished by July of next year. He also said he’s eager to start spending the new funds so that the plant can be in operation by spring of 2011.

In other city news, two new appointments for planning commissioner were approved by the council. Rita Osborne will take over position 1 and Denise Vickerman will step into position 5. Both placements will begin July 1 and expire Jan. 31.

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