October 27, 2011 in Washington Voices

County unveils Urban Growth Plan options

By The Spokesman-Review

The UGA boundaries could remain the same or a steering committee could choose to recommend one of three proposals that would add and subtract land from UGA boundaries all over the county.

 Option one: Includes the existing Urban Growth Area.

 Option two: Would add already developed areas north of Medical Lake; a large swath of land north of the Spokane city limits that would include Mead and reach north of Mt. Spokane Park Drive; an area just east of Barker Road south of the Spokane Valley city limits; a small area along the Little Spokane River; and the Pillar Rock area near Airway Heights. Areas in the South Glenrose, Moran Prairie, Ponderosa and Monte Del Ray neighborhoods would also be added. An area in the West Plains south of Thorpe Road and a small piece of land north of Medical Lake would be removed from the UGA.

 Option three:Would include all the suggested additions and deletions from option two except for the Mead area. It would also add in the Five Mile Prairie, the proposed jail site south of Airway Heights and a large area in the Belle Terre neighborhood south of Spokane Valley.

Option four: Includes most suggestions from options two and three except for the Five Mile Prairie and Belle Terre neighborhoods. It would add a larger area in the Monte Del Ray neighborhood and include the area west of Argonne and south of Bigelow Gulch, a large chunk of land just east of Fairchild Air Force Base and the Palisades area on the west edge of Spokane.

Spokane County is reviewing the Urban Growth Area boundaries and Spokane Valley residents got a chance to take a look at the various proposals under consideration during a sparsely attended open house Monday.

The UGA boundaries could remain the same or a steering committee of local elected officials could choose to recommend one of three other proposals that would add and subtract land from the UGA boundaries all over the county. Color-coded maps showing the options being discussed were on display. People clustered around the maps asking questions of Spokane Valley and Spokane County staff, but since so few people showed up they were sometimes outnumbered by staff members.

Cathy Ruddell was disappointed not to see her family’s land on any of the proposed maps. Her family owns an 80-acre farm sandwiched between two housing developments on South Barker Road. Her family has been trying to get their land added to the UGA for about five years. “We’re literally surrounded on three sides by it,” she said of the UGA.

The property has sewer and water lines crossing it and has been designated as a future road site. “It’s beneficial for our land to be included,” Ruddell said.

The three maps showing proposed changes were put together by an advisory committee that includes employees from cities in Spokane County, said Spokane Valley Planning Manager Scott Kuhta. The elected-official steering committee will review the options and then make a recommendation to the Spokane County Commissioners. “It’s solely the county’s responsibility by law to approve urban growth boundaries,” Kuhta said.

Including land in UGA boundaries makes it more valuable, he said. “You can develop your land at urban densities rather than rural densities,” he said. On the flip side, some landowners who don’t want to be in an urban area don’t want their property included within the boundaries.

Spokane County Library District Executive Director Mike Wirt stopped by the open house to see how well the maps matched the district’s 20-year capital facilities plan. The district owns land on Hastings Road in north Spokane County for a future library as well as two acres on Conklin just south of Sprague Avenue in Spokane Valley.

“We would be OK if these are added,” he said after looking at the various suggested additions to the UGA. “They aren’t very big and people already live there anyway.”

The public will have more opportunities to comment on the proposed changes as they are considered by the Spokane County Planning Commission and the Spokane County Commissioners. People can also go online to www.spokanecounty.org/ bp for more information.

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