July 7, 2012 in Washington Voices

Familiar face returning

Planning commission to welcome back Beaulac
By The Spokesman-Review
 
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The Spokane Valley City Council picked someone with previous experience to fill a vacancy on the city’s planning commission, voting to appoint Fred Beaulac to the seat.

Beaulac, whose term will expire at the end of the year, served on the planning commission from 2003 to 2008.

Mayor Tom Towey said he recommended Beaulac for the seat in part because of his experience. “Fred is familiar with its inner workings, terminology and advisory role,” he said. When he was on the commission previously Beaulac only missed two meetings. “The commitment is there,” Towey said.

Only three people applied to fill the seat vacated by Marcia Sands, who resigned. The other candidates were retired manufacturing manager Kevin Anderson and teacher Robert McCaslin, the son of the late senator and council member Bob McCaslin. Beaulac is an operations manager with Hatfield Enterprises.

Councilman Chuck Hafner said he hoped the other two applicants would reapply for the commission in the future, but the city needs “someone who is right there and up to snuff,” he said.

Hafner joined Towey, and councilmen Arne Woodard and Ben Wick in approving Beaulac’s appointment. Councilman Dean Grafos voted against it; council members Brenda Grassel and Gary Schimmels were absent.

In other business, planning manager Scott Kuhta presented the council with terms for the developer’s agreement the council voted to require as a condition of rezoning 10 acres on Conklin Road to high-density residential. The land, located just south of Broadway, is surrounded by single-family homes and neighbors have voiced concerns about having apartments in their neighborhood.

“We’ve been negotiating with the developer,” Kuhta said. The property owner, Greg Arger, has agreed to limit the density to 22 units per acre and to provide a setback of 40 feet around the entire perimeter of the property, he said. Alki Road will not be extended and the main access to the apartments will be on Broadway Avenue, though there will be an entrance on Conklin as well, he said. “That would be required anyway for emergency access.”

The owner has also agreed to put in a shared use path from Moore Road to Sonora Road on the south end of the project. “Right now there’s half a right of way there,” Kuhta said.

The buildings will also be no higher than 35 feet, which is notable because the medium-density residential zoning currently in place allows for 40 feet, Kuhta said. High-density residential zoning allows a height of 50 feet. “I believe that hits all the points we had talked about,” he said.

The council will hold a study session on the proposed agreement on July 17. A public hearing and first reading of the ordinance is scheduled for July 24 with a final vote set for July 31.

Finance director Mark Calhoun gave a presentation on how the city might be able to pay for a new city hall. The city once had $5.8 million set aside for that purpose but about $2 million of it has been spent. Some of the $3.8 million remaining has already been earmarked to be spent on other projects, including a new gateway sign at Appleway and Thierman and the possible acquisition of property at Sprague and Herald. “Right now it’s being looked at for a number of things,” he said.

If the city gets a non-voted bond to build or renovate a new city hall, the money that is currently used to lease city offices can instead be used for the bond payments, Calhoun said. The amount of bonds and cash needed from the city’s general fund could vary depending on the term of the bonds and there are no firm numbers to consider, he said. “It’s a jumping off point for discussion,” he said.

“That looks very promising,” Wick said. “I’m in support. I’d like to see us continue to move forward.”

Woodard suggested looking for an empty building that could be renovated. “There are a number of buildings along Sprague,” he said. “I think we’d save a lot of money.”

Towey said he liked the idea of having a fixed cost every year in the form of a bond payment instead of steadily rising rent. The city also needs to act before the money that has been set aside is gone, he said. “Chipping away at that public facilities fund is not the best idea in the world,” he said.

The council also got its first look at a proposed agreement with Spokane County for the repair of Sundown Court and 48th Avenue east of Woodruff Road. The county installed sewer lines in the neighborhood in 2009 and the road was repaved. Ever since neighbors in that area have had a problem with water not draining off the road property, said City Attorney Cary Driskell. “Water ponds up and freezes there and becomes a big skating rink,” he said.

The city has been unable to get the county to agree to pay for the repairs itself so the city is proposing that each pay for the half of the repairs, Driskell said. The city’s share would come to about $95,000. The agreement will come to the council for a formal vote at a future meeting.


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