July 5, 2012 in Washington Voices

Shoreline plan gets OK

Planning panel loosens restrictions on docks
By The Spokesman-Review
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It was with a certain amount of relief that the Spokane Valley Planning Commission voted last Thursday to recommend the City Council approve the Shoreline Master Program draft goals and polices.

The commission has met seven times to go over the draft that was written by an advisory group of land owners, governmental agencies and river users, often debating over a single word.

After discussing a final word change, the commission voted to approve the edited version.

“I would tend to accept it as printed,” said commission chairman Bill Bates. “We’ve been over this.”

The final version does include a slight loosening in the rules governing docks. Restrictions allowing docks only in reservoir areas of the Spokane River remain; however, new wording encourages – but doesn’t require – residential developments of more than two dwellings to provide community docks rather than individual docks. This provision, if approved by the council, would affect the Coyote Rock development along the Spokane River downstream of Plantes Ferry Park.

The commission spent a relatively brief amount of time discussing the final version of the draft before voting. Commissioner Rustin Hall took the time to point out that a heading in the document had not been typed in bold-face. “I actually feel pretty good when you’re picking on whether the title is bolded or not,” said senior planner Lori Barlow.

The goals and policies are only one part of the Shoreline Master Program, but are what will guide the creation of specific regulations governing the shorelines in Spokane Valley. The planning commission will hold a public hearing on the draft regulations once the council approves the goals and policies and the regulations are written.

In other business, the commission reviewed which uses are permitted in the city’s various zones. City staff is recommending several changes, including allowing boat sales and service and building supply stores in corridor mixed use zones. But perhaps the biggest change proposed is to make outdoor markets a permitted use in nearly every zone except for garden office, office and neighborhood commercial. The category includes farmers markets and fruit stands.

Currently markets and fruit stands must apply for a temporary use permit every year. The permit is only good for six months and in the past some fruit stand owners have been fined because they stayed open too long.

Another proposed expansion is to allow indoor entertainment and recreation facilities in light industrial zones and in heavy industrial zones with a conditional use permit. Those kinds of facilities – such as rock climbing or trampolines – generate a lot more traffic and people than are usually found in heavy industrial zones, said assistant planner Christina Janssen, but that is also where there are large empty buildings. A conditional use permit requires a public hearing before the city’s hearing examiner, who has the authority to require conditions to mitigate impacts.

Hall said he wasn’t sure if he was comfortable with allowing that sort of use in a heavy industrial area. “That one fundamentally bothers me, whether we have vacant buildings or not,” he said.

Planning manager Scott Kuhta said he has a business of that type interested in a site in a heavy industrial area right now. “We would anticipate there will be quite a bit of debate on some of these items,” he said.

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