Local news

County raises building-height restrictions

County commissioners quickly adopted a building-height increase Tuesday that they hope will bring a large distribution center to the West Plains.

Later in the day, commissioners received an unrelated offer for 23.9 acres of county-owned light industrial land near the corner of McFarlane and Craig roads.

Raising the height limit in light industrial zones from 40 to 60 feet opens the door for the distribution center, which commissioners have been told would employ 100 to 200 blue- and white-collar workers. It would need about 48 feet of height for automatic storage and retrieval equipment.

Fairchild Air Force Base, Spokane International Airport and the Washington Pilots Association said the height increase wouldn’t be harmful if federal flight-path restrictions are enforced.

The height increase also is limited by an airport “overlay zone.”

Commission Chairman Al French and other county officials met with representatives of that company in a private meeting Tuesday morning.

“We gave them some information so they can make a decision,” French said. “What they decide to do we anxiously await.”

He didn’t elaborate on the discussion.

The distribution center is the largest of several enterprises considering West Plains real estate. Others include a smaller distribution center and an “energy conversion” plant that have been looking at surplus land the county acquired for its Geiger Spur Railroad project.

Another company surfaced last week with an offer for some of the county land, near a proposed railroad transloader site.

“We’ve got fish in the pond and a hook in the water,” French said. “We’ve got to land one of them.”

The offer, through the Byrd Real Estate Group, was presented Tuesday afternoon by the county’s listing agents, Mark McLees and Jon Jeffreys, of the NAI Black commercial real estate firm.

McLees and Jeffreys said they weren’t at liberty to name the potential buyer or discuss the proposed land use.

The company offered 15 cents per square foot – about $6,535 an acre – for a total of $156,386. The asking price was 21 cents per square foot, or $9,147.60 per acre.

Commissioners decided they needed more information before they could consider the offer, which would require the county to bring sewer and water service to the site.

A preliminary report indicated Spokane could provide water from a nearby 36-inch transmission main that runs to Fairchild Air Force Base, but the county would have to guarantee use of at least 1 million gallons a month.

Commissioners wanted to know the reason for that requirement, which the potential buyer probably couldn’t satisfy. They directed their staff to look for alternatives and bring them a cost estimate.


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