October 12, 2011 in City

Land deal gets OK

County, Dishman Hills group strike tentative agreement
By The Spokesman-Review
 

For the second time in a month, Spokane County commissioners have jumped at bargain-priced conservation land offered by the Dishman Hills Natural Area Association.

Commissioners tentatively approved a deal in which the association will provide 160 acres for less than half its cost.

The property is along the path of the proposed Dream Trail that would link the Dishman Hills Natural Area with the county’s Iller Conservation Area.

Even without the Dream Trail, the land will provide a “great hike” with “amazing views,” county Parks Director Doug Chase said.

Last month, the commissioners approved another purchase in which the natural area association acted as an intermediary with private property owners. In that case, the association acquired 80 acres containing the popular Big Rock formation and sold it to the county at a steep discount.

In Tuesday’s deal, the association will buy land from the estate of Jerry Stone for $480,000 and transfer it to the county Conservation Futures program for $222,500. The association will donate 40 of the 160 acres and charge the county half of the appraised value of the remaining 120 acres.

“Not every day do we have a partner that’s interested in covering over half of the purchase price of one of our conservation properties,” Chase said. “They have just been great to work with.”

The purchase is contingent on the county’s ability to purchase 136 adjacent acres, known as the McCollum property.

“We have a very good opportunity to do so,” Chase told commissioners.

He said he hopes to complete both purchases in three to four months.

The McCollum land is important because it connects the Stone property to nearby state Department of Natural Resources land that offers public access via Theirman Road. Otherwise, access would be limited to county maintenance workers who would have permission to cut through a gated community.

In other business Tuesday, commissioners accepted a $1.6 million state grant that will reimburse the county for about half of its Conservation Futures purchase in July of 332 acres at Antoine Peak.

The purchase completed a three-phase project to acquire more than 1,000 acres of conservation land north of the eastern edge of Spokane Valley.

In addition to helping complete the Antoine Peak project, the state grant will provide about $50,000 a year for 15 to 25 years to maintain land acquired with voter-approved Conservation Futures property tax receipts.


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