In/Around: Five Mile Prairie
Five Mile residents came away from a recent Spokane City Council meeting reveling in their victory.
“Miracles do happen once in a while,” said a beaming Kathy Miotke.
The council earlier this week voted 5-2 not to go forward with plans to provide water to 105 prairie acres on the northeast corner of Five Mile and Johansen roads known as Jesse’s Bluff.
“Why should we provide support for a development in the same area we’re not allowing development to take place in the city?” said Councilman Chris Anderson.
Council members Orville Barnes and Bev Numbers voted to extend water service.
While Jesse’s Bluff is in the county, it’s just a short distance from land that falls under the city’s domain and a yearlong moratorium set to expire in May.
Poor roads, lack of parks, and slow police and fire response on the prairie caused the council a year ago to temporarily halt housing applications on the prairie.
Several council members, including Anderson and Mayor Jack Geraghty, argued that extending the water to the 213-home subdivision would only aggravate existing problems.
“I’m afraid I’m going to have to vote against this,” Geraghty said. “In the face of a moratorium up there, it goes beyond me why I would vote to extend water to this area.”
Battles over Jesse’s Bluff began in 1991, when county commissioners approved the proposal despite protests from prairie residents.
At the time, the city said it could provide water to the subdivision but wasn’t in favor of the proposal because of poor access to the prairie.
Resident Doug Metcalfe appealed the commissioners’ decision to Superior Court, where a judge ruled the development needed a full-scale environmental impact study that looked at issues such as open space, recreation and transportation.
The judge ordered commissioners to take a second look at the development after the study was completed. Before doing the environmental review, the developer, Baldwin Properties, appealed the judge’s decision to the state Court of Appeals.
Metcalfe and Baldwin settled just before the matter went to court.
Their agreement requires Baldwin to change the original plat, including donating 2.5 acres of park land and depositing $5,000 into a homeowner account to maintain the park.
They also agreed to a list of covenants forbidding things such as business activity, duplexes, signs, barns and trailers.
In other business, the council agreed to vacate Standard Street between Jackson and Buckeye avenues.
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