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Spokane, county begin talks on urban growth

Tue., May 13, 2014

Top elected leaders in Spokane and Spokane County spent two hours Monday morning talking about how to plan for future growth in the community.

It was the first in what is expected to be a series of meetings intended to bring collaboration on growth, rather than disagreements that erupted last year when county commissioners expanded the urban growth area by 4,100 acres.

That expansion was rejected by the state Growth Management Hearings Board and sent back to the commissioners for another round of public testimony.

City Council members had pushed to retain the existing urban boundary as a way to direct new residential and commercial growth into the city rather than spreading into the county.

Monday’s meeting involved Mayor David Condon, the three county commissioners, City Council President Ben Stuckart, and council members Amber Waldref and Candace Mumm.

The meeting follows adoption earlier this spring of a joint development agreement between the city and county.

“The city of Spokane and Spokane County agree to work cooperatively to develop and implement a model for smart growth that delivers mutually beneficial outcomes for each jurisdiction and the citizens they serve,” the agreement said.

County Commissioner Todd Mielke said much of the land added to the urban growth area was included to meet demands for new schools, septic tank elimination and a new jail site.

Mumm said building on undeveloped land adds to the cost of providing public services that the public has to finance.

“We are required to provide parks, libraries and fire,” she said.

Commissioner Al French said the county has sought to provide a full range of services in unincorporated urban areas, and he pointed to the county’s aquatics center on North Hatch Road as an example of that.

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