Spokane County went too far negotiating a deal with neighborhood groups to settle legal issues of urban expansion, the government affairs director for the Spokane Home Builders Association said Tuesday.
"It's a roadmap for any extremist group, to just bombard the county with lawsuits to get what they want," said Michael Cathcart, referring to the contract that took 18 months of mediation to broker between Spokane County and organized interests representing neighborhoods mainly in northern Spokane County. Commissioners Al French, Shelly O'Quinn and Nancy McLaughlin unanimously approved the compact Monday.
You can read the full text of the agreement by clicking here: http://www.spokesman.com/documents/2016/jun/21/settlement-agreement-between-spokane-county-and-ne/.
Catchcart said the county should have pushed harder to require an empirical land quantity analysis, which he believes would show the need for continued expansion in the county because of a lack of property available for infill development. He said the agreement, which commissioners and neighborhood activists characterized as a compromise Monday, amounted to the county "kind of giving away the farm."
"Something with broad, sweeping policy impacts should have had a public hearing," Cathcart said, noting his organization was not informed about deal specifics during the mediation process which began early last year. "It just doesn't seem quite right."
The Home Builders Association represents 650 member businesses, which include contractors, plumbers and other construction- and development-based interests, all of whom could potentially benefit from a larger urban growth area, which would mean more building. The association's political action committee has donated in the past to Commissioners French and O'Quinn, as well as Todd Mielke, who continued to help negotiate Monday's settlement after leaving the commission in February to become chief executive officer of Greater Spokane, Inc. The builders PAC has not donated any money to commissioner candidates during this election cycle, according to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.