October 4, 2012 in Washington Voices

Shoreline feedback sought; designations to be decided Oct. 11

By The Spokesman-Review
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Proposed shoreline environmental designations only drew a few written and in-person comments during a public hearing before the Spokane Valley Planning Commission last week.

The designations are part of a state-mandated update to the city’s Shoreline Master Program that governs how the city’s shorelines can be used or developed. After a review by the Department of Ecology, which has the final say over the plan, the city is proposing using the designations of shoreline residential-upland, shoreline residential-waterfront, urban conservancy, urban conservancy-high quality and aquatic environment. The aquatic environment designation would be used for land between the Spokane River’s ordinary high water mark and the water.

City staff is recommending a few other changes as well, said senior planner Lori Barlow. One of those is to remove the Mirabeau Trailhead area from urban conservancy-high quality, which is shoreline in a nearly natural state, to urban conservancy. “This area has high public use,” Barlow said.

Barlow said she is recommending the same designation change on a piece of property owned by the Washington state Department of Transportation along the Spokane River west of Barker Road. The land isn’t in a pristine enough condition to warrant the urban conservancy-high quality designation, she said.

“In both those cases these are publicly owned lands,” Barlow said, and any development is unlikely.

Commissioner John Carroll asked about the difference between urban conservancy and urban conservancy-high quality. “Urban conservancy-high quality is to protect those areas that are mostly intact,” Barlow said. “It’s not intended to allow for much development.”

Avista Utilities submitted a letter outlining concerns about whether the company would be allowed to maintain and repair its transmission lines in urban conservancy-high quality areas. Barlow recommended adding language to the environmental designations that would specifically allow the maintenance and repair of utilities.

People have until the end of the day today to submit written comments on the proposed environmental designations. The planning commission is scheduled to decide whether to recommend approval of the designations at its Oct. 11 meeting .

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