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Draft plan provokes conflict on Spokane Valley zoning

Danny Smith, who lives on Barker  Road south of Appleway and was photographed Tuesday, put a sign up in his yard to remind  neighbors that a change to the city of Spokane Valley’s comprehensive plan could allow high density housing in the field next to his house at 110 N. Barker Rd. Although the owner of the field has been denied such a zone change, it could be part of the revamped comprehensive plan, and Smith’s house could be completely surrounded by apartments if the change is made to the comp plan. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)
Danny Smith, who lives on Barker Road south of Appleway and was photographed Tuesday, put a sign up in his yard to remind neighbors that a change to the city of Spokane Valley’s comprehensive plan could allow high density housing in the field next to his house at 110 N. Barker Rd. Although the owner of the field has been denied such a zone change, it could be part of the revamped comprehensive plan, and Smith’s house could be completely surrounded by apartments if the change is made to the comp plan. (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

Spokane Valley residents near North Barker Road and East Sprague Avenue have been going door to door, handing out fliers alerting the neighborhood to how a proposed zoning change could turn a cow pasture into an apartment complex.

“I don’t understand why we are here again,” said Stephanie Colombo, during the first public hearing on the Draft Comprehensive Plan at last week’s Spokane Valley Planning Commission meeting. “It’s a goal of this plan to maintain the integrity of the neighborhoods. This does not match our neighborhood.”

Spokane Valley is at the beginning of the final review of its Draft Comprehensive Plan and development regulations.

The draft plan creates one multifamily designation and changes the office corridor designation to “corridor mixed use,” allowing for multifamily, office, retail and light manufacturing in that area.

Areas around some major intersections may be designated for neighborhood commercial development in order to encourage small businesses and coffeehouses to open.

Property along Trent Avenue may get a new industrial mixed-use designation, which allows for light industrial businesses like tow yards and some commercial use.

The plan also has just one industrial designation.

Over all, the draft plan and development regulations simplify 17 different types of zoning to 11, and 12 land designations to nine.

The area around Barker Road and Sprague Avenue is at the very edge of Spokane Valley, and lots there are large and deep with single-family housing.

Remnants of pasture like the lot on the northeast corner of Sprague and Barker, which is owned by Viking Homes, are ripe for development, but neighbors want to preserve the rural nature of their old neighborhood.

Andy Coutzman, who also lives in the neighborhood, said he’s concerned about the amount of traffic an apartment complex would dump onto two-lane Barker Road.

“Traffic backs up here all the time,” Coutzman said. “The city should take care of the infrastructure before it allows for more development.”

It’s not the first time a zoning change has been debated for this lot.

Last year, the planning commission recommended not to change the zoning, and in 2014 the Spokane Valley City Council turned down another request to zone the land for multifamily housing. The council then cited concerns that schools near Barker Road are overcrowded and that the two-lane Barker Road is congested and has no sidewalks or street lights.

Danyel Currier was part of the group of neighbors that protested that change, and now she’s put a new protest sign in her front yard.

“We’d be OK with single-family housing, or even duplexes,” Currier said. She lives with her husband and her father on North Barker Road. “But three-story apartment buildings are just too much.”

Currier said she simply doesn’t understand how it can be back on the table again.

“We have lived here for five years and if the zoning changes our house will be worth nothing,” Currier said. “We really thought we were done talking about this.”


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