CORRECTION: Thursday, May 11, 1995 The name of Kathy Miotke, the Five Mile Prairie woman who wants to donate land to the city Parks Department, was misspelled in the May 4 North Side Voice.
When her husband was dying of brain cancer, Kathy Moitke subdivided their property on Five Mile Prairie and sold three lots so she could pay for his home care.
As part of that 1991 agreement, she signed a statement promising not to protest future assessments for road paving, sidewalks, water and sewer extensions on the remaining three vacant parcels and her home.
Moitke remembers the statement, but didn’t think she needed to worry about it because she has no plans to develop the land, and promised her husband, David, she would keep it for their daughter, now a student at the University of Washington.
“I figured if I didn’t develop it I wouldn’t have to worry,” she said. “Wrong.”
That project she agreed not to protest has since been proposed. The city itself put forward a proposal for road paving, curbs, sidewalks, water and sewers. As a result, Moitke has been assessed $100,000 - more than she claims she could get for the lots by selling them.
Since the city of Spokane annexed a portion of Five Mile Prairie it has been one development fight after another: density, stormwater, road widths and park land have all been hot-button issues.
Moitke has helped resolve some of these by sitting on a joint city-county committee that looked at growth on the prairie.
Now she has her own battle.
This is the second major improvement district to come across her land. She finally paid for water and sewer extensions to the back side of her land when she sold those lots.
That was quite a burden and so when she opened her mail and saw the latest proposal, she almost keeled over with shock. “I became a blithering idiot,” she said.
“I just got out from a mountain of medical bills. I don’t want to develop the property - I don’t need it,” she said.
What’s most frustrating is that Moitke not only wants to leave her land undeveloped, but doesn’t need city water or sewer service.
To resolve her dilemma, Moitke is looking into designating her land as a wildlife conservation area. As such, the improvements may not add any value and the city could not assesses her.
She has also made an offer to the city Parks Board to donate the land for open space.
The Park Board is studying that option, though accepting platted lots with the promise not to develop them is unusual. Once taken into the city’s park system, land can not be sold without a public vote.
Taylor Bressler, parks maintenance manager, said the department is looking at the donation with regards to how it will affect future management.
“We have to judge these kind of donations to make sure they don’t become an obligation,” he said. “What’s going to happen 20 years from now? … It’s one of these deals that look good now, but what’s going to happen when there are houses all around there?”
In order to give Moitke more time to resolve the issue, the city’s Construction Services Department has reconfigured the project to exclude Moitke’s property.
Many, including Moitke’s attorney, Bob Kingsley, have told her to accept the inevitable: sell the lots and her apricot-colored stucco-style home. If she wants a country lifestyle, she should move way outside city limits, not on its northern edge.
“I really can’t sell.” she said. “David is still with me. He died in this house with my arms around him. I can’t move yet.”
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