June 26, 2010 in Washington Voices

Mixed Use Avenue zone critics few

Some landowners ask adjustments to plan
By The Spokesman-Review
 

Business owners in the Mixed Use Avenue zone of the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan appeared to have less to complain about Thursday than business owners in the Gateway Commercial zones did in May.

The Mixed Use Avenue zone is broken up into segments from Dishman-Mica Road to Sullivan Road that run between the City Center and Neighborhood Center sections. The meeting to gather input from the community on the Mixed Use Avenue zone let out early after there were only a few questions and complaints aired. Items that were hot topics in the Gateway zones, such as signs and building setbacks, were not even mentioned.

Grant Persons of NAI Black, a commercial real estate company, said that the zone rules “take away a lot of flexibility.” He was also concerned about types of uses that are no longer allowed. “There’s going to be difficulty getting insurance as well as financing on these nonconforming uses.”

Frank Larson said he owns a parcel of land at First Avenue and Union Road that is in two different zones. “The parcels next to me have the same problem,” he said.

Spokane Valley planner Scott Kuhta said city staff is already looking at the problem. “We’ll be addressing that issue when we talk about Residential Boulevard,” he said.

A broker from Kiemle and Hagood, Mac Whiteford, said he was at the meeting to represent the family that owns the property on the southeast corner of Sprague and Progress Road and read from a lengthy prepared statement. His clients’ property is zoned Mixed Use Avenue when adjacent properties are zoned Neighborhood Center. “The value of their property has been reduced,” he said, and the family would like their property added to the Neighborhood Center zone.

Whiteford also said the zoning changes overall would have blocked some recently completed construction at the northwest corner of the same intersection. “Planners clearly do not understand market forces,” he said. The addition of uses such as office space and lodging on retail-focused Sprague Avenue also doesn’t make sense. “Those are unrealistic uses,” he said.

Dick Behm, a fourth generation owner of property on Sprague, said the issue should be the one-way couplet, which has driven business down 30 to 40 percent. “I have no problems with these plans as long as there is the ability to adjust to individual situations,” he said.

Kathi Shirley, an owner of the Spinal and Sports Care Clinic property on Sprague, said she knows that city staff is trying to create business centers and make Sprague look nicer. “I understand what the plan is trying to do,” she said. “The problem is you are putting an undue burden on property owners. Why should we pay for the city’s plan?”

Written comments on the Mixed Use Avenue zone will be accepted through Wednesday. Staff will then create a report based on the comments and submit it to the City Council during the July 6 meeting. The council will decide what changes, if any, to make to the zone.


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