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Valley council looks at St. John Vianney project proposal

Development agreement negotiated by city staff, St. John Vianney

The Spokane Valley City Council got its first look Tuesday at a proposed development agreement that has been negotiated between city staff and St. John Vianney Catholic Church. The neighbors were invited to be a part of the negotiations, but withdrew after the first meeting.

The church requested that a piece of land just to the south of the church be rezoned from low density residential to medium density residential so Catholic Charities could build a low income senior housing complex on the property. The requested comprehensive plan amendment was met with strong objections from the neighborhood over concerns about increased traffic, increased crime and the size of the complex when compared to nearby homes.

Assistant planner Karen Kendall said the proposed agreement has several key points that the developer has agreed to. It would be required to remain as low income senior housing for 75 years and the complex would be limited to 40 units. All buildings would be required to be less than 40 feet in height and the east and south facing sections would be one story. The complex would be designed to fit in with the neighborhood by using the same materials and roof pitch as nearby homes. A resident of the neighborhood would be invited to sit on the complex’s “resident’s council” once the project is complete.

The church has also promised to preserve the trees. “There are several trees located on this site,” Kendall said. Five trees were diseased and needed to be removed, but the church has agreed that any other trees that may be removed that are not diseased or a hazard will be replaced, she said.

The council had few questions about the proposed agreement. “Is a rezone still required with a development agreement?” said Councilman Bill Gothmann.

Attorney Mike Connelly, who is consulting with the city on the issue, said a rezone in the comprehensive plan would still be required. “You can’t by development agreement do something that isn’t allowed in your comprehensive plan,” he said.

The agreement would simply apply limits to what the church or any future owners could do with the property. “It would run with the land and be a part of the property in the future,” he said.

The council has the option to deny the zone change or approve the zone change and then consider the development agreement, he said. A public hearing on the issue is scheduled for the July 12 council meeting and the first and second readings of the proposed zone change will be held at later meetings.

The city’s planning commission recommended that the zone change be denied because the proposed complex did not fit in with the neighborhood. Councilman Arne Woodard, who served on the planning commission when that vote was taken, has been recusing himself from all discussions involving the church’s proposal.

Though the proposed zone change has attracted numerous public comments at previous council meetings, no one addressed the issue during Tuesday’s meeting.