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Spokane Valley City Council rejects plan for mixed-use development in Ponderosa neighborhood

Spokane Valley City Council denied a zoning change that could have brought a multiuse commercial development to the Ponderosa Neighborhood.

Dennis Crapo of Diamond Rock Construction Inc. in February proposed a zoning change from single-family residential to corridor mixed-use for a 5-acre parcel of land adjacent to the Forest Meadows subdivision.

The proposal – a comprehensive plan amendment – drew opposition from several nearby residents, who cited the land is in a 100-year floodplain, and any future development would increase traffic, cause flooding and impact wildlife.

The zoning change – which allows for light manufacturing, office buildings and multifamily apartments – is usually intended for major transportation corridors, such as Sprague Avenue.

A group of residents appealed a favorable environmental review in March for the proposed zone change, but Spokane Valley’s hearing examiner ruled in favor of Crapo.

However, because the proposal is a comprehensive plan amendment, it was sent back to the planning commission for final consideration, who ruled 6 to 1 to recommend city council deny the zone change.

The City Council agreed to that denial at a meeting Tuesday, stating it’s incompatible with the low-density residential neighborhood.

Spokane Valley resident Kent Mayer said the neighborhood doesn’t want corridor mixed-use or multifamily development on the 5-acre lot.

“It’s called the Ponderosa neighborhood. That’s how it’s referred to. It’s not the Ponderosa mixed-use corridor,” he said. “I’m wondering how we even got this far, frankly. It’s frustrating. There’s a lot of other places to go, as the staff report identified. There’s lots of opportunities elsewhere, and it was planned that way in the comprehensive plan, so stick with the plan.”

Spokane Valley resident Al Merkel said the large turnout of residents at City Hall testifying in opposition of the development indicates they feel the city isn’t listening to their concerns.

“They fear this kind of development can happen right over the top of them, despite logic and common sense. I’m glad in this particular case that’s not what’s happening. But, it feels like it has been a struggle. And, honestly, it shouldn’t have been this hard,” he said. “The regulations that exist right now seem to open it up for folks to try things like this. And, ultimately it’s a waste of time for us, it’s a waste of time for council, it’s a waste of time for city staff and it’s a waste of time for Mr. Crapo, the developer.”

Spokane Valley resident Galen Pavliska said Crapo told homeowners that nothing would be built in the 5-acre parcel because it’s in a floodplain.

Pavliska said his home has constant problems with flooding, especially when it rains, due to the type of soil.

“We spent a lot of money buying that land and putting our house up that has a lot of problems because of the silt,” he said. “I think when these developers come in, we need to look at if they are doing it right.”

Merkel said a lot of folks are talking about the pace of growth and development negatively impacting their quality of life in the Valley.

It’s the city’s duty to find a way to balance needs of the neighborhoods, community and residents with growth by looking at development practices, regulations and laws to address sensible development, he said.

“I think as a community, we’re very tired of paying to fix institutional and infrastructure problems that are created by developers who go on to make millions of dollars off of our tax money,” he said. “So, I challenge this body (of government) to really do something about that in a strong way.”


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