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Wandermere apartments get OK, with caveats

An apartment complex will be built along Wandermere Road near the Gleneden Heights neighborhood, though a lengthy public hearing process has changed the plans considerably.

Neighbors first voiced concerns to the Spokane County Planning Commission in September. Rudeen Development had purchased two parcels of land to the west of the neighborhood, a crescent plot nestled between Wandermere Road and Highway 395. A large portion of the land had already been zoned for high-density residential development, based on plans by a previous owner to build a retirement home. A smaller portion of the land, a roughly 4-acre square in the middle of the crescent, remained low-density residential.

Rudeen planned to build a a more than 354-unit apartment complex on the land. The neighbors opposed the project, saying it would crowd the already bursting Mead School District and further congest Wandermere Road, posing a risk to pedestrians. The Planning Commission voted against the development in February, but Spokane County Commissioners opened the issue back up for public comment shortly thereafter, saying state law supported the rezoning.

The approval Tuesday was subject to a pair of agreements, one between Rudeen and Spokane County and the other between Rudeen and a neighborhood group that had filed an environmental appeal of the project. Clearing on the site began this spring and has continued while the sides negotiated what the apartment complex will look like.

The final agreement, which can be seen below, limits the complex to 310 units. Rudeen will have to plant trees on the west side of Wandermere, acting as a natural buffer between the neighborhood and the apartments. The neighbors will have a say on the design of fencing on the property, and construction can only occur after 7 a.m.


Agreement between Rudeen Development and Wandermere neighbors

Neighbors hired Seattle-based land use attorney David Bricklin to facilitate the negotiations. He said Tuesday that residents recognized the developer had rights to the property based on the rezoning that had already occurred.

"They knew that they were going to have to accept a lot more development than they would prefer," he said.

County commissioners praised both sides of the issue Tuesday night before voting unanimously to allow the development to move forward, subject to the conditions of the developer agreements. Rudeen and the neighborhood agreed not to sue each other until after they'd attempted mediation.

Commissioner Todd Mielke said he knew some residents would have preferred the county to completely shut down the development.

"I don't believe we had the legal standing to do that," Mielke said.

Commissioner Al French said the issue was one of the most complicated he'd seen in 21 years working on land use because of the zoning discrepancies that had already been approved between the two parcels.

"I know that this was a lot of work, and more importantly, a lot of emotion," he said.

The commissioners also moved to approve three other, less controversial zoning changes targeting specific projects around the county. Those were:

- An application to change three parcels of land (2.5 acres) near Regal Street and 57th Avenue on the South Hill from low-density residential to mixed use by Craven Company LLC, owned by Michael Craven; 

- An application to change 1.25 acres at the corner of Wellesley Avenue and Argonne Road in Spokane Valley from low-density residential to neighborhood commercial by the Josie Bucknell Living Trust; and 

- An application to change 2.5 acres at Aero and Fruitvale roads in Cheney from light industrial to medium-density residential by Fruitvale LLC, owned by Steven Bowman.

Roundy’s ready to retire, closing their motorcycle-watercraft store this week

Pete and Merline Roundy, who've operated a motorcycle all-terrain vehicle shop in north Spokane for more than 35 years, will close their store on Saturday.

The Roundys, both 77, opened their first Roundy's Kawasaki shop in 1976.  Within the past year the couple has decided it's time to retire.

“We’re doing this with mixed emotions,” Pete Roundy said. “We’ve had a good time, and I think we’ve maintained a good reputation in the community.”

Their original shop was at 8029 N. Division St. They changed the name in recent years to Roundy’s, ending the affiliation with Kawasaki.

In 2005, the Roundys moved the business to the current store, at 11008 N. Newport Hwy.

“It hasn’t been that easy to keep going the past three or four years,” Pete Roundy added. “It’s not been ideal for recreational items. But we hung in there, even when it wasn’t that easy.”

The shop and service center is being leased to Mead School District, who will use the building as a STEM center.