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Wandermere residents plan to oppose apartments

Residents of several neighborhoods near Wandermere Golf Course have hired an attorney and plan to lobby county commissioners Tuesday to oppose plans to construct a three-story apartment complex on forested land.

At a packed-house meeting Sunday night at Covenant United Methodist Church, more than a hundred neighbors met to make sure they provided what one speaker called a "united front" at a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday night. The lone agenda item is considering a rezoning request from Rudeen Development to change a 4.5 acre parcel from low- to high-density, key in its plans to construct a three-story, 354-unit apartment complex on an oblong plot between North Wandermere Road and U.S. Highway 395.

Here's a map showing where the proposed development would be from Spokesman-Review graphic artist Molly Quinn:

Map of proposed Wandermere development

County commissioners, prompted by Al French, chose to hold another public hearing on the rezoning after the county's planning commission voted in November to reject the rezoning, based on arguments from neighbors about the strain on Mead's schools and area traffic. Jennifer Mudge, an area resident who has led the organizing effort to combat the development, led the meeting Sunday and said she wants to fill the commissioners' public hearing space with bodies.

"I hope we have more than this, I honestly want to flood that room," Mudge said. "I want to be overflowing, out of the room, up the stairs."

Several of the speakers Sunday night talked about traffic concerns on Wandermere, particularly with children playing across the street and crossing to play with children who might move in to the apartment complex. Others worried their home values would plummet with apartments visible from their backyards on the forested bluff where the proposed apartments would be built.

Among those in attendance was Tom Rockefeller, superintendent of the Mead School District. He said after the meeting the school is in a tough spot, but hasn't taken any official position on the development. A member of the school board said they'd be meeting Monday night and would draft a statement in opposition to the project.

At the meeting was an envelope for collections to pay attorney's fees. The neighbors have hired legal counsel in anticipation of the proposal being approved by county commissioners. They would likely appeal that decision, sending the proposal to the Growth Management Hearings Board.

Tuesday's meeting on the rezoning will take place in the Commissioners Assembly Room at the county's Public Works Building, 1026 W. Broadway Ave., at 5:30 p.m. Mudge said she hopes county commissioners, who can overrule the planning commission's recommendation and allow the project to move forward will work with neighbors on the project.

"We're not saying, 'Don't build,'" Mudge said. "We're just saying, 'Work with us.'"

Valley Council dumps controversial land-use plan

A proposed land-use change that would have allowed large apartment complexes in a mostly rural neighborhood along Barker Road was dumped tonight by the Spokane Valley City Council.

Council members voted 6-1 against moving the proposal forward for further consideration, saying the infrastructure is inadequate to accommodate apartments and that it would be detrimental to the existing neighborhood.

"This is not an apartment building neighborhood," said Councilmember Ed Pace.

The proposal by Whipple Consulting Engineers would have reclassified a 5-acre parcel at Barker Road and the old Sprague Avenue from low- to high-density residential.

The neighborhood, however, banded together to fight it, packing several City Council meetings to protest the change.

"We feel pretty good," said Danny Smith, who shares a home with his daughter and son-in-law on a 1-acre parcel adjacent to the proposed land-use change. "We knew it was close and had no idea how the vote would go."

Not a hero: Rancher’s federal land grab all about greed, arrogance

UPDATED 3:18 p.m. to properly attribute Taylor quote.

PUBLIC LANDS — Washington State Rep. Matt Shea has ridden out of his Spokane Valley district on his white horse to save us from the overpowering federal government as he stands in lock-step with a Nevada rancher who's stolen more than $1 million in grazing favors from public land.

Whom will Shea stand up for next? The guy who says he has a Constitutional right to rob the Post Office?

Shea says he was compelled to back Cliven Bundy as he joined Rep. Dave Taylor for a trip to the Bundy Ranch. As Taylor put it,“If we don’t stand up for our neighbors, there won’t be anybody left when they come for us.”

The confrontation stems around a Nevada rancher who doesn't recognize the U.S. Bureau of Land Management as the owner of the public land he wants to graze his cattle on. Bundy has declined to pay about $1 million in fees while he lets his stock run amock where law abiding ranchers don't.

Trouble is, the BLM isn't the only voice saying Bundy is breaking the law.  So have the courts, twice.  

The courts, at last check, are our nation's way of settling points of law.

BLM backed away from confiscating Bundy's cattle — seizing the stock was authorized by a judge — when supporters came in and posed the climate for a violent confrontation.

So where do we go from here?  

The public owns the land, not the rancher. If every man who fabricates a disagreement with the government decides to run his cattle — or cuts his trees, builds his roads, kills his game, nets his fish, or fires up his bulldozer — the way he sees fit, the American icon of public land will be lost.

That, Mr. Shea, is what's worth standing up for.   Not one man's greed and selfishness, but rather the rule of law and the overwhelming advantages of regulated public land.

Shea says feds making war on rural U.S.


YouTube video by Gavin Seim

The federal government has declared “war on rural America” with its rules and regulations on land use, a Spokane Valley legislator said in the wake of last week’s standoff between a Nevada rancher and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

In a speech on land near the center of the dispute, Republican Rep. Matt Shea called for federal land to be transferred to the states. A coalition of legislators from Western states was forming to stand up for Cliven Bundy and others in the fight against overbearing federal rules, he said.

But a spokesman for the group challenging Bundy's rights to graze hundreds of cattle on federal land without a permit or paying fees, said the rancher is trying to do something other cattlemen can't. And a federal judge's order supports that view. . . 


To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

To read the federal judge's order in the legal battle between the BLM and Cliven Bundy, click on the document below.


ULUC Dilemma Frustrates Planners

Kootenai County is faced with a dilemma concerning the controversial land use code they have spent three years trying to revise - trash it and start over, or try and salvage what they have. The County Planning Commission met with county commissioners in a workshop on Tuesday afternoon to try and resolve that, but to no avail. "I have 53 pages here and we've only gotten through four pages," said Planning Commissioner Linda Fillios. "I guess I didn't expect it would be something like this. I thought we would look at the prospectus and say yes or no. Do we want to continue with this or not?"/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.

Question: Should the county throw the proposed land use code or keep trying to revise it?

ULUC Hearings Up In The Air

Kootenai County officials went back to the drawing board Tuesday after failing in their first attempt to hold planning commission hearings on the controversial Unified Land Use Code proposal Monday evening. "The meeting didn't go exactly as planned," Community Development Director Scott Clark told the board of county commissioners. "We had a big crowd, bigger than expected. It was a pretty busy place." Coeur d'Alene Fire personnel interrupted the hearing Monday night to inform the county planning commission that it was over capacity in its meeting room and said that many of the attendees would have to leave. Planning Commission Chairman Wes Hanson opted to adjourn and continue the Monday hearing "to a date uncertain" rather than asking half the attendees to leave. There will be no more hearings this week/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here.'

  • Larry Spencer: "Seems the property owners have come to understand that this "wonderful new code" is really just a transfer of control and use of their property to the planning department."

Question: Obviously, organized opposition is going to greet every meeting held to discuss the Unified Land Use Code. At this point, are these hearings an exercise in futility? What would you do if you sat in a county commissioner's seat?

Angry Crowd Closes ULUC Meeting

It was powder keg that darn near went off in the Kootenai County Courthouse Monday night. Luckily, the Coeur d'Alene Fire Department was able to snuff the fuse by informing the Kootenai County Planning Commission that its meeting was over capacity, so it was canceled. But not before a few sparks went off.  Pressure started building in 2010 after Kootenai County adopted a new comprehensive plan and decided to update its land use codes to enforce the new plan. As the proposal was being developed, county officials met with several community groups, advisory groups and affected land owners to explain their intentions. Still, after years of meetings, it became apparent during a forum on the subject earlier this month that many county residents are still frustrated. That all came to a head Monday night/Jeff Selle, Coeur d'Alene Press. More here. (Press photo: Nearly 300 people turned out for the Kootenai County Planning Commission's hearing on its proposed Unified Land Use Code)

Commenter Bob Ely: "Those of us who live in the county are quite concerned that the county commissioners are going to ram this ill conceived plan down our throats. Note to commissioners: go back to the drawing board."

Question: What percentage of the public do you think is concerned re: the proposed new land-use code?

ULUCode Hearings Set This Week

The Kootenai County Planning Commission will start holding public hearings on the county's controversial new land use code this week. Staring Monday the commission will hold hearings on each chapter of the Unified Land Use Code and take public input into consideration before it makes a decision on whether to recommend adoption. The county has spent several years developing the new code and the final draft was released for review 60 days ago. Copies of the proposed draft ULUC may be viewed:

Question: Are you interested in the land-use code hearings that will take place this week?

No docks on the rocks

Remember the "No Docks At The Rocks" protest last summer? Here's an update from Tim Connor and the Spokane RiverkeeperIn a major victory today for opponents of the Coyote Rock developers’ plan to site 30 recreational docks on a scenic stretch of the Spokane River, a state court of appeals panel has ruled that permits for the first two docks at the site were illegally granted by the City of Spokane Valley.

The three-judge panel’s unanimous decision stems from a challenge that Washington’s Department of Ecology brought two years ago when it intervened in a challenge originally brought by the Spokane Riverkeeper, the Spokane Falls Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and The Lands Council. At the time, Ecology contested the validity of exemptions that the City of Spokane Valley issued under the state’s Shoreline Management Act. It also sharply criticized the overall plan because the “cumulative effects of locating 30 individual docks on this reach of the river will result in complete degradation of the shoreline” in violation of the state law.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

After the jump, take a look at a video produced about the proposal at Coyote Rocks. I suspect the red band trout will be partying about the decision.

Stop Spokane County from getting cul-de-sacked!

Tomorrow there's a hearing on the proposal to expand Spokane County's already outsized Urban Growth Area when the Growth Management Steering Committee of Elected Officials meets from 9am to noon in the Spokane County Public Works Building, 1026 W Broadway Ave. Arrive after 8:30 a.m. to sign in to comment.

The expansion is unneeded.

A little background: This hearing stems from the review of the Urban Growth Area by Spokane County and its cities and towns. The Urban Growth Area is the area designated to accommodate projected urban growth and development for twenty years and was first established in 2001. The review determines whether to expand or retract the existing Urban Growth Area.

As someone who has been to the open houses during the review, I can attest to the makeup of the participants: Mostly developers who see the expansion as something cheaply akin to a gold rush.

Spokane is in a crucial development stage. As local environmental advocate Kitty Klitzke pointed out at the time of the meeting in 2009, “our county’s Urban Growth Area (UGA) already covers over 89 square miles, this is over 2.5 times larger than the City of Paris, France. And Paris we ain’t. Their population, at 2.2 million is almost 5 times the population of Spokane County.”

In the last decade, 25 percent of county growth has occurred in rural spaces while enough land already existed in the urban growth area to accommodate their projections.

All the more reason to focus growth inward as the city of Spokane's infrastructure is strained due to unsustainable sprawl.

Happy 20th Birthday Futurewise

“If you care about where your kids are going to live or if you care about where you’re going to retire, Futurewise is the group you need to invest in because their work is the key to our ability to make progress on all those issues.” Aaron Ostrom Director of Fuse

Here are a few topics we often talk about here on DTE: growth management, responsible land use, conservation, neighborhood walkability and efficient and earth-sensitive transportation.  If you consider tying them all together, what we end up talking about is a vision for a higher quality of life in Spokane, Washington state, the country and the world.  A vision for a more sustainble region.  Sounds great right? 
It does to us now, as it did to the founders of Futurewise 20 years ago.  That’s right, 20 years!  Pretty incredible when you think about how difficult and frustrating public policy work can be.  That’s 20 years of jumping hurdles, running uphill, swimming upstream, etc….. you get the picture.
In case you’re unaware, Futurewise is “a statewide public interest group working to promote healthy communities and cities while protecting farmland, forests and shorelines today and for future generations.”  Founded in 1990 (the same year the Growth Management Act was passed in Washington State), they’re the only statewide group in Washington working to ensure that local governments manage growth responsibly - essentially the state’s primary advocate for smart growth policies.

In the below video you’ll hear stories about how Futurewise started, what’s it done in the last 20 years, and why its work is critical for the future.  What we want you to do is consider how Futurewise has aligned with your vision of a sustainable Spokane.  Think about how it has helped protect that vision or introduce you to that vision, or  use this video and post to begin that thought process.  What  you’ll find is Futurewise is more important to you than you probably previously considered.  For the next 20 or 40 years, having organizations be watchdogs of corporations, developers and other power brokers is going to be essential for protecting our vision of a sustainable Spokane, and Futurewise has 20 years of experience doing so.  Get connected, get educated, get involved. 

Get your law on



If you’re interested in land use and environmental law, today is your lucky day. To celebrate the opening of the new Spokane office for Bricklin & Newman, LLP, you’ve got to be at this event. We’ll see you there!


Thursday, February 25, 2010, 3:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Magic Lantern Theatre, 25 W. Main, Spokane


Reception with complimentary local beers & wine
Food provided by One World Cafe
5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
Saranac Art Gallery, 25 W. Main, Spokane

Please RSVP to cahill@bnd-law.com