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Study finds room for urban growth

Wed., Oct. 13, 2010

State law requires review every 10 years

Spokane County’s urban growth areas have enough land to serve the metropolitan area for the next 20 years, according to a study that will be discussed tonight.

Planning officials will conduct an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. as part of a lengthy process to make sure the growth areas are adequate.

Although the state Growth Management Act calls for growth areas to meet development needs for 20 years, starting next year reviews are conducted every 10 years.

Aside from the “land quantity analysis,” which may be viewed online at, planners also must conduct an environmental analysis and make sure municipal governments can provide infrastructure for the growth areas.

Also, urban developments that already have public sewer and water service could be added to growth areas, Planning Director John Pederson said.

The meeting will be in the county Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave., next to the courthouse.

It comes a day after the Washington Court of Appeals handed the county a sort of Pyrrhic victory in a convoluted UGA dispute that began in 2005.

Essentially, the court ruled that neighborhood activists couldn’t have two bites of the apple. Having challenged an Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board decision in Thurston County Superior Court, the plaintiffs couldn’t also ask the board to reverse itself.

Plaintiffs included Kathy Miotke, Julia McHugh, the Pallisades neighborhood and the Neighborhood Alliance of Spokane County. Before she became a county commissioner in 2007, Bonnie Mager was co- founder and executive director of the Neighborhood Alliance.

The hearings board agreed with the plaintiffs that county commissioners improperly expanded growth areas on the West Plains and Five Mile Prairie in 2005.

Commissioners reversed their decision in March 2007 to satisfy the hearings board, which said there was nothing it could do about developments that were authorized before the old growth-area boundaries were restored.

The neighborhood advocates challenged that decision in Thurston County Superior Court and, before the court could rule, filed a petition with the growth board.

This time, the board agreed with the neighborhood coalition that commissioners violated the Growth Management Act when they repealed the decision that ran them afoul of the act.

Commissioners challenged that decision in Spokane County Superior Court, where a judge ruled the coalition couldn’t go to the growth board after taking its complaint to Thurston County Superior Court.

The coalition appealed that decision to the Court of Appeals.

Meanwhile, the Thurston County court approved an agreement among the parties in October 2007 that directs the hearings board to reconcile its contradictory rulings.

That order has been on hold pending Tuesday’s Court of Appeals decision.

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