February 2, 2013 in Washington Voices

Neighbors oppose Covey Glen North plan

By The Spokesman-Review

Residents near Sprague Avenue and Hodges Road filled the Spokane Valley City Council chambers Thursday morning to complain about a housing development proposed on the southwest corner of the intersection.

They testified before Spokane Valley Hearing Examiner Mike Dempsey that the proposal for Covey Glen North, to rezone to allow 46 single family homes on 8.57 acres, was too much.

The minimum lot size of 6,000 square feet is too small, said resident Jacqueline Cypert. “That isn’t the typical lot size of the whole area,” she said.

“That is way too many houses in that little area,” said Covey Glen South resident Susan Holcomb, adding the lots in her development are larger and her garage is 5 feet from her fence, she said.

There are only 16 homes in Covey Glen South, said neighbor Heidi Fowler. “I think it changes the character of the neighborhood.”

As part of the proposal the developer would be required to make improvements to Sprague, Hodges and Second Avenue, said Spokane Valley planner Karen Kendall. Second does not run through that area, and would be extended to connect to Hodges. Several old greenhouses and one house on the property would be torn down, she said. A second house would remain for the near future.

Dempsey noted that the developer would also be required to contribute toward the cost of placing a light at Barker Road and Sprague. Several projects already approved for the area have caused traffic problems at the intersection. Dempsey asked if there was a timeline for its installation.

“That project has been contemplated and planned for years,” he said. “It would be nice to know. There’s several projects that have contributed to that over the years.”

Senior traffic engineer Inga Note said the city is waiting for Chapman Road to be extended to Barker. “At that time, that’s when we think that will be needed,” she said. “We’re hoping that it would probably be within the next 10 years.”

Dan Melville of Landed Gentry Development said the project would be built in four phases. The first phase would include improvements to Sprague and Hodges. The landowner, however, wants to ask the city to vacate Second Avenue and not require improvements to it, Melville said. Street vacation petitions must be approved by the City Council. “He would like to expand his garage in this area and get more land,” Melville said.

Several neighbors testified they don’t want Second Avenue extended. “If that were open, that would just be another freeway,” Cypert said.

There is also a need for a 6-foot privacy fence surrounding the development to protect the privacy of neighbors, many of whom own horses, Cypert said.

Resident Darla Krug expressed concerns about neighborhood schools. Greenacres Middle School is busing 80 students to a different school, Liberty Lake Elementary is full and Greenacres Elementary has only four slots open, she said. “There will be an impact on the schools that are already full,” she said.

Krug said she has six children that have already been affected by overcrowding. “Not once have they all been able to go to the same school,” she said.

Melville said that while the city does not require a 6-foot privacy fence, his company typically requires the contractor to install one. He mentioned several other projects in the area done by Landed Gentry that have included a fence. “I know we’re not required to,” he said. “Fencing is very important to us.”

In other business, Demsey held a hearing on a similar Landed Gentry project that would rezone 9.2 acres on the west side of Flora Road south of Indiana Avenue in the Greenacres neighborhood. The project, known as Centennial Place, calls for 48 single family homes.

Two homes currently on the property have been separated out using a process called a short plat, Kendall said. They will remain on the site. The developer will be required to make improvements to Flora Road, including adding a sidewalk, as a condition for approval.

The development will include a landscape buffer along the new streets, Melville said. It helps muffle road noise and make the project more visually appealing, he said. “We’ve done this before and found it very, very effective,” he said.

No one testified against the project. Dempsey said he expects to have a decision on both projects within the next three weeks.

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