March 27, 2010 in Washington Voices

Council orders review of SARP

By The Spokesman-Review
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Public comment

Council highlights

Mike King – Called the Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan a “blueprint” and “a plan for the future.” He asked council members what plan they had to take its place. “It’s not a perfect plan, but it’s a plan. What is your plan? Is your plan to destroy what thousands of Spokane Valley citizens worked for? If you have no plan, don’t throw the baby out with the wash.”

Philip Rudy – Stated that the last business to build on Sprague before SARP took effect was a storage business and said that if SARP is removed it would allow more such businesses. “I would hate to see that be the future of the city of Spokane Valley.”

Dick Behm – Said that last year he had spoken to several fellow business owners who planned to expand or build their businesses, but they no longer are. “What the council has done in the last three months is disheartening. Everything has been put on the shelf. What you’ve done is stopped development and stopped progress.” He noted that the letters of complaint Councilman Dean Grafos has submitted to buttress his arguments against SARP did not come from local business owners but from developers and real estate people.

Susan Scott – Is in favor of dumping SARP because community meetings about the plan did not disclose details of the plan, which was a “stealth rezone of over 1,000 properties.” She believes the true purpose behind SARP is to move toward form-based coding. “This plan is a huge attack on property rights.”

The Sprague/Appleway Revitalization Plan was again a topic of discussion at Tuesday’s Spokane Valley City Council meeting.

A motion to add SARP to the Planning Commission’s agenda for 2011 Comprehensive Plan amendments was approved by five council members, with Council member Rose Dempsey voting against it and Council member Bob McCaslin absent.

Council member Bill Gothmann said he was only voting for the motion so the council could consider “whether or not Appleway should continue to be in our Comprehensive Plan.” He said he didn’t believe that the rest of the elements of the Comprehensive Plan require changing. He pointed out that the complaints in letters submitted by Council member Dean Grafos to support his arguments against SARP all dealt with the development code, not the Comprehensive Plan.

Grafos said he wanted to look at each individual parcel covered by SARP, find out which businesses are now nonconforming and compare what property owners can do with their land now versus what they could do under zoning under effect in 2003. “That’s what I would like to do and that’s a plan,” he said in apparent reference to a comment from a member of the public that the current city council does not have its own plan to take the place of SARP.

“My plan for the community is that we review the Comprehensive Plan and get legitimate community input,” said Council member Brenda Grassel. “I’ve thought from the beginning that there was never any real input.”

During a break in the council meeting Planning Commission chairman John Carroll said he was surprised by Grassel’s comment. “I know there was an awful lot of people speaking on both sides of the issue,” he said, noting that Grassel was one of those who commented. “I’m just mystified on how seven reasonably educated people didn’t hear the public. I think we did.”

Dempsey said what the council has done by putting SARP up for reconsideration in a process that will last through 2011 is create an uncertain climate for local business owners. “We have thrown a blanket of paralysis over our businesses,” she said. “It will be a year before anyone can do anything. I don’t think that’s fair to our community and I don’t think we should do it.”

Grassel pointed out that businesses can continue to operate under the SARP rules until the plan is changed or repealed. “Really businesses aren’t being held up,” she said.

“Who is going to go under these rules when they don’t know what the rules will be?” Dempsey said.

The council will likely hold study sessions on nonconforming properties and economic impacts of zoning before beginning to address possible zoning changes in each section of the SARP. Grafos said he would like city staff to send a letter to each of the approximately 1,300 property owners affected by SARP advising them of their property rights and what they can do with their property now versus what they could do before.

“Do we have sufficient staff to do this?” said Dempsey.

“We’ll just do the best we can,” said City Attorney Mike Connelly.

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