Developer Harlan Douglass lost his bid to build apartments in Spokane’s northeast corner Monday when the City Council cast a rare tie vote.
Without a majority decision, Kaiser Aluminum Corp. wins the war - at least for now - over how 46 acres of land at Lincoln and Crestline should be developed.
Kaiser representatives argued last week that building apartments near their Mead plant threatened the company’s future.
That fear prompted two councilmen - Mike Brewer and Jeff Colliton - to deny Douglass’ request on Monday.
“Kaiser provides more of our jobs than almost any (other company),” Councilman Jeff Colliton said. “With even the remotest possibility that an employee of this size might leave, we have to do everything in our power to keep it here.”
Mayor Jack Geraghty also voted against the change, saying the city is running out of land set aside for industrial uses. “There’s plenty of residential land to be developed.”
Councilwomen Phyllis Holmes, Roberta Greene and Cherie Rodgers sided with Douglass.
“Although I appreciate Kaiser’s concern, I have trouble asking another developer to provide a buffer,” Holmes said.
Douglass’ proposal for apartments is part of a larger plan for a mixed-use development, so Kaiser’s objections are moot, Greene said. Douglass already has the zoning he needs for manufactured homes and a planned-unit development.
During last week’s hearing, two nearby homeowners voiced support for the housing project, saying they preferred the land to have apartments - not more industry.
Councilman Orville Barnes abstained from the vote, saying he was asked by the developer to step aside for fear of harboring “some degree of prejudice” about the issue. Douglass currently is suing Barnes over a past business deal.
Douglass’ attorney, Mike Murphy, vowed to appeal the council’s vote.
At least two councilmen seemed to be saying that “whatever Kaiser wanted, Kaiser should get,” Murphy said. “I don’t think that’s the standard that should be applied.”
Also Monday, the council heard from:
Spokane Horizons, a group of nearly 200 citizens charged with rewriting the city’s comprehensive land-use plan.
The group recently finished the third of a six-phase process. In this phase, the volunteers brainstormed solutions to problems they’d identified in phase two.
For example, if Spokane wants to encourage more people to ride bicycles, streets should include bike lanes.
June Shapiro of the city’s Human Services Department, who unveiled a Web site dedicated to helping the homeless. The site - www.spokanecommunity.org/ homeless - will be used by social service agencies.
Agencies can trade information about shelter vacancies and services, and the public can offer suggestions about improving conditions for Spokane’s homeless.
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