Voices


City OKs zone change but makes changes first

A request to rezone property on Conklin Road south of Broadway Avenue received final approval from the Spokane Valley City Council on Tuesday after some last-minute tweaking.

The developer agreed to increase the setback from 5 feet to 10 feet around the perimeter of the project, said senior planner Mike Basinger. There was an apparent misunderstanding last week over the development agreement that includes a 40-foot perimeter in which building heights are restricted to 35 feet. Neighbors said they thought no buildings could be built in that zone and were dismayed to learn that the developer, Greg Arger, could put a two-story townhouse 5 feet from the property line.

“It was new information to staff that they wanted to put dwelling units within that 40 foot area of restriction,” Basinger said of the decision to increase the setback. The original information was that the buildings around the perimeter would be carports or garages, he said.

Residents in the neighborhood, who have complained for months about the proposed apartment complex, appeared resigned to the inevitable when they testified Tuesday.

Richard Wilcox said he wasn’t against the higher density zoning but wants it “put together properly.” Resident Cheryl McManamon said she still had concerns about increased traffic on Conklin Road and asked that heavy trucks use Broadway Avenue to enter and exit the site during construction. “That’s supposed to be the main entrance,” she said.

Residents are still mourning the loss of the open field that is currently on the site, said Katherine Potter. “We understand there is going to be a development going in,” she said. She asked that the council limit the 40-foot restricted zone to garages and carports. “This design concept was originally proposed by the developer himself,” she said.

Councilman Arne Woodard said he did a lot of research on the issue. “I would encourage the developer to meet with the neighbors,” he said. “I know we can’t require it. We don’t get to vote on the project. We’re voting on the zoning.”

The Argers are a fourth-generation Spokane Valley family and have done some nice developments in the city, Woodard said. “Because of that history I think we have to give them a little leeway,” he said.

The proposed project is near shopping and major arterials, said Councilman Dean Grafos. “I’m going to vote for this project because it meets all the criteria,” he said. “I know the Argers will do a good job.”

The project will also generate fees and sales tax revenue for the city as well as create construction jobs, he said. “That’s a big deal for the city in these economic times,” he said.

Councilman Chuck Hafner said he liked the increased setback of 10 feet. “I think that perhaps took care of most of the problems I had last week,” he said.

Brenda Grassel was the only council member to vote against the zone change.

In other business, the council unanimously awarded a bid for the second phase of street preservation work to Spokane Rock Products, which had the low bid of $679,475. The projects included in the bid are Fancher Road from Sprague to Broadway avenues, Argonne Road from Indiana to Montgomery avenues, University Road from Sprague to Main Avenue, and Mission Avenue from Union to Pines roads. All streets will be ground down and get a new asphalt overlay; the Fancher and University projects also include pedestrian ramp upgrades.

Woodard noted that the bid was about $80,000 under the city’s estimate. “I think we’ve got some good dollar value,” he said. “I’m hearing from citizens that they really like the roads we’re doing.”

Since several recent preservation projects have come in significantly under budget, the city has some street preservation money left over, said senior capital projects engineer Steve Worley. The council will decide what project to fund with the extra money at a later date.



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