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Thursday, April 9, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Proposed City Can’t Dodge Land-Use Law State Expert Says Rural Areas Cannot Be Included

The proposed city of Mead cannot be used to circumvent tough new land-use restrictions, a state authority said Wednesday.

Tuesday afternoon, just before Spokane County commissioners set aside most of the North Side as rural, Realtor Jack Dein filed plans to form a city covering about 22 square miles north of Spokane. If the city formed, any land within its boundaries could be subdivided into small lots.

But state law prohibits any new cities from including land that’s designated rural, said Steve Wells, the state’s top authority on the Growth Management Act. It doesn’t matter that Dein proposed the city before the urban boundaries were adopted, Wells said.

Wells’ response puzzles Suzanne Knapp of the Spokane Homebuilders Association. Knapp said she talked to another GMA authority in Wells’ office last week and was told the act doesn’t say anything about incorporation.

Why two different answers in the space of a week?

Wells said that while the act doesn’t discuss the relationship between rural areas and new cities, the state law establishing boundary review boards does. His staff hadn’t done the necessary research to find that law when Knapp called.

“I apologize” for the confusion, said Wells, who cautioned that while the law seems clear to him, “we’re not the last word.

“We always cop out by telling cities and counties to get their own legal opinion.”

In order to put his proposal on the ballot, Dein must collect signatures from 10 percent of the registered voters within the proposed city. The issue then would go to the boundary review board, which - under Wells’ interpretation of the law - would remove any rural areas.

That would reduce Dein’s proposal to about a quarter of its current size.

With 20,000 residents, the city of Mead would stretch from Five Mile Prairie on the west to Peone Prairie on the east. It would include Wandermere Golf Course, miles of Little Spokane River shoreline and hundreds of acres north of the river.

In 1992, Mead was part of a proposed North Side city, spurred by fears that the area would be annexed by the city of Spokane. The issue never reached the ballot.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Map: Proposed city of Mead

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