December 16, 2010 in Washington Voices

Neighbor group sues over parking lot

By The Spokesman-Review
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The neighborhood group Families of Manito has filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against the city of Spokane over a parking lot expansion at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church that was approved by the hearing examiner in early November.

A court date has yet to be set, but there is a scheduling conference on Jan. 6.

Ann Bergeman, co-president of Families of Manito, said the group believes the hearing examiner’s decision is flawed.

“This is the next step in the process,” said Bergeman. Families of Manito has formed a nonprofit organization and is being represented by the Center For Justice.

There are no meetings scheduled in December, but Bergeman said a meeting will be announced soon after the Jan. 6 scheduling conference.

Earlier this year, when St. Mark’s tore down one single-family home and moved another to make room for a bigger parking lot west of the church, south of 24th Avenue, neighbors organized a protest against the expansion. That group turned into Families of Manito.

After the hearing examiner’s decision in November, Pat Sowder, parish administrator at St. Mark’s, said the church was happy with the ruling and remained committed to being a good neighbor by designing the parking lot in a way that would reduce cut-through drivers and using landscaping to minimize the visual impact in the neighborhood.

If the parking lot is constructed as proposed by St. Mark’s, the church would have 101 parking spots.

Bergeman said earlier that Families of Manito had been discouraged from contacting city planning staff directly and that the hearing examiner had not taken into consideration the 80-plus neighbors who wrote letters opposing the parking lot expansion.

“We are putting all the court documents up on our website where people can see them,” said Bergeman.

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