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County unveils Urban Growth Plan options

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 bp for more information.