October 31, 2009 in Washington Voices

City crafting new shoreline plan

Council members upset over ‘unfunded mandate’ from state
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Public meeting

 Spokane Valley planners and consultants will conduct a public meeting Thursday on the Shoreline Master Program to discuss their strategy for writing new shoreline regulations. The open-house meeting will be from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at City Hall, 11707 E. Sprague Ave.

 The current plan is available at City Hall or on the city’s Web site: www.spokane valley.org.

 For more information, call Planning Manager Greg McCormick at (509) 688-0023 or e-mail him at gmccormick@ spokanevalley.org.

A plan to develop new shoreline regulations in Spokane Valley generated little enthusiasm Tuesday among City Council members.

Several members resented having to spend $150,000 of city money for a new Shoreline Master Program the state wants.

“We are paying for this out of our general fund,” Councilman Dick Denenny complained, calling it “an unfunded mandate that has to come out of our limited tax base.”

The $150,000 was used to hire a consulting firm, URS Corp.

“Over and above that, we’re looking at staff time out of our Planning Department – three people – to accommodate a state mandate,” Denenny said.

“Not only is it an unfunded mandate, but if you don’t do it the way they want you to do it, they’ll do it themselves,” Mayor Rich Munson added.

Spokane County learned that the hard way, he said.

“After spending a lot of money on their plan, they ended up having to do whatever the state said, anyway,” Munson said. “It’s a rather interesting process.”

Spokane Valley adopted the county shoreline plan after the city was established in 2003, and now is obliged to produce an updated plan by Dec. 1, 2013. Local shoreline plans must be approved by the state Department of Ecology.

Shoreline plans govern land uses within 200 feet of substantial bodies of water, as defined by state law. Spokane Valley’s plan would apply to the Spokane River, Shelley Lake and the Central Pre-Mix and Flora Road gravel pits.

The best Munson could say for the process was that, “rather than let them (state officials) do it to us, we’d rather do it to ourselves and make sure that it mitigates those impacts as much as we possibly can.”

Councilman Bill Gothmann wanted to know whether city planners adequately warned shoreline property owners that “this could easily affect how you use your property.”

Associate planner Lori Barlow said she couldn’t recall the wording of a notice recently mailed notice, “but we tried to call to their attention that this is the program that regulates their property.”

Barlow said an earlier notice told property owners that consultants would be “out and about conducting their inventories.”

Gothmann requested a copy of the most recent notice, which says the shoreline plan “provides standards for development” and would include “new shoreline regulations.”

Residents should speak up if they have any concerns, Gothmann said.

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