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Washington Voices

Developer seeks rural rezone

Sat., Sept. 19, 2009

Neighbors worry about lake’s quality

A public hearing will be held Thursday to help Spokane County decide whether to allow a Liberty Lake landowner to build up to six homes per acre, a move that has neighbors in the area upset.

Lancaster Enterprises has filed a proposed amendment to the county’s Comprehensive Plan for a 3.6-acre parcel at 24024 E. Lakeridge Drive, on the north shore of Liberty Lake outside the Liberty Lake city limits. The hearing before the Spokane County Planning Commission is set for 9 a.m. at the Spokane County Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave. in Spokane.

The parcel, like all others around Liberty Lake, is zoned rural traditional, which allows one home per 10 acres. There is already a home on the land. The request is to change the zoning to limited development area residential.

Lakeside resident Kathi Shirley is concerned that developing the land will impact the lake’s water quality. “That particular part of the lake is very important for storm water drainage,” she said. “Adding more development on a fragile ecological system isn’t usually a good mix.”

Shirley, who leads the group Community Addressing Urban Sprawl Excess, had heard about the issue from neighbors. She admits that most of the parcels adjoining the one owned by Lancaster Enterprises are smaller than 3.6 acres. “A lot of those plats were approved well before the Growth Management Act was approved,” she said. “That’s really grandfathered in.”

The entire area was zoned rural to limit growth when the Growth Management Act took effect. The land is located outside the Urban Growth Area boundaries.

Shirley said that some of the land is unbuildable. “It’s exceptionally steep,” she said. “There’s a 50 percent slope on some of that parcel.”

Liberty Lake Sewer and Water District director Lee Mellish shares her concerns about possible development impacting water quality and has heard from several other residents worried about the possible zone change. The sewer and water district formed because the lake was plagued by algae blooms every year. Water quality has been the primary issue for years. “When you have development, there’s always a certain amount of environmental issues that pop up,” he said. “We feel that this could be detrimental to water quality.”

Mellish said he sent a letter to Spokane County expressing the district’s opposition to the zone change. “The community worked very hard to keep everything south of Sprague in a rural designation,” he said. “This would appear to be contrary to that.”

Paperwork prepared by Bryan Westby of Adams & Clark Inc., a land development and design firm based in Spokane, states that the owners want to subdivide the property if the Spokane County commissioners authorize a rezone. Westby said he did not want to comment on the proposal before the hearing.

After the hearing the Planning Commission will submit a written opinion to the county commissioners on whether the rezone should be allowed. The commissioners will then vote to accept or reject the planning commission’s opinion.

Written public testimony will be accepted through Wednesday. Statements can be mailed to the Spokane County Department of Building and Planning, 1026 W. Broadway Ave., Spokane WA 99260.

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