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New Ben Burr Road plan proposed

A plan to close a segment of Ben Burr Road just south of 57th Avenue has been abandoned in favor of a proposal to relocate the road 150 feet to the east.

Spokane County Commissioners in 2011 gave preliminary approval to close a portion of Ben Burr Road and reroute it on 61st Avenue to Palouse Highway to make room for a proposed commercial development.

In doing so, the commissioners had required the developer to build a trail for pedestrians to replace the lost roadway segment and to install a traffic light at 61st and Palouse Highway.

Now, the developer said he has another idea and is asking county commissioners to approve a change of plans for the road across his nine acres.

On Tuesday, the commissioners accepted a petition by Dave Black Properties LLP for a new street vacation and relocation.

Under the plan, a new segment of Ben Burr Road would be built 150 feet east of the existing road and would connect with a curving portion to the south where another developer wants to build apartments, said Dave Black, head of the partnership.

Black is the CEO of NAI Black, which operates several business entities.

The road closure has been controversial in the neighborhood since it was first proposed more than six years ago. The developer argued the segment wasn’t needed because the area was already served by 57th and Palouse Highway.

Eliminating it would have made more room for commercial use, including a possible supermarket of 54,000 square feet.

County commissioners initially rejected the closure in 2007.

Residents of the neighborhood argued that the existing road served the community as a low-traffic alternative to Palouse Highway. It also connects with the Ben Burr Trail, which extends northward from 57th.

The road and trail were built on a former railroad right of way and are named after an early-day railroad executive in Spokane.

Another nine-acre property immediately to the south has since been sold with plans for apartment construction on the northeast side of Ben Burr Road.

Black said the proposed new road could be used for a sewer connection for the apartment project.

Jacobson Greenhouses operated there until the late 1990s, when the owners closed the rose-growing operation and eventually sold the properties.

Black said relocating Ben Burr to the east on his property has the advantage of creating greater separation between Ben Burr Road and Palouse Highway, improving traffic safety.

“The neighborhood really wants that road going through there,” he said.

The road would remain in its present location until Black develops his property. However, the apartment project to the south would likely make sidewalk and other improvements along Ben Burr Road, which would eventually connect to a realigned segment, Black said.

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Then and Now: Comstock Park

James M. Comstock, born in 1838 in Wisconsin, arrived in Spokane in time to witness the great fire of 1889 and start Spokane Dry Goods with Robert Paterson. It became the Crescent, Spokane’s premier department store for a century. He also worked in real estate and owned other businesses. He served a term as Spokane mayor, starting in 1899. James Comstock died in 1918.