A Blackwell Island recreational vehicle park would be environmentally unsound, would cost taxpayers money and would lead to unwanted city expansion.
That was the sentiment of about two dozen neighbors Tuesday who urged the City Council to veto plans for a 292-pad RV park northwest of the Spokane River.
City officials had not begun debating the proposal late Tuesday for 40 acres south of U.S. Highway 95. A decision was expected.
Developers contend the proposed RV park and a professional office building are perfect for the site.
It’s below the 100-year floodplain, but RVs could be removed in the event of a flood, said developer Ann Hall. Further, the site of the old city landfill would be inappropriate for more permanent development.
The project would bring in tourists and money and would operate on a private water system, Hall said. Developers would pay the costs of hooking up to the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
Planning commissioners in February had recommended the proposal be shot down because there were too many unanswered questions.
The project would require annexation into the city and would mark the beginning of a much-feared expansion march across the Spokane River, county resident Virginia Johnson said. She pointed to internal city documents as proof that officials have been considering such expansion for years.
Those documents showed city staff members and a handful of elected officials had met with developers to discuss annexation beyond the geographic boundary of the river.
City Councilman Mike McDowell said, however, that city leaders would base their decision on the project on its own merits. The council has never indicated it planned to annex further.
“There seems to be a perception that the council has a long-range plan to have the city engulf Blackwell Hill,” McDowell said. If residents don’t support such an annexation, he wouldn’t support it either, he said.
Residents also feared the project presented on-site problems. Many worried the proposed drainfield and sewage pump station could spill over.
“Are we sure any sewer system can be designed to be fail-safe in the event of flooding?” asked resident Charlotte Bland.
Others argued that the city would be liable for damages to RVs in the event of a flood.
City Attorney Jeff Jones said the city could be sued, but would not likely be found liable.
Some residents argued the project would bring too many cars and people to a site that serves as a gateway to the city. The project also could be considered a de facto trailer park, they said.
Developers had proposed allowing RV owners to stay on the site up to 180 days at a time.
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