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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Spokane Valley decides against suing county

After threatening a lawsuit over 419 acres that were recently opened to development just outside the city limits, the Spokane Valley City Council decided Tuesday not to take Spokane County to court.

Four of the seven council members voted against appealing the county’s recent expansion of the urban growth boundary, citing conversations with county commissioners and talks between planners at both governments.

“I feel that they’ve made a good-faith effort” to form a joint-planning agreement addressing developing areas just outside city limits, said Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite.

Councilmen Mike DeVleming, Gary Schimmels and Steve Taylor agreed.

“I would hope that this council would use lawsuits as a last resort rather than a first step,” DeVleming said before the vote.

At an Aug. 30 council meeting, DeVleming was the only member who opposed sending the county a letter threatening a suit. That letter stated that the city would appeal one of the county’s growth-area expansions to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board unless the county “immediately began negotiating a joint planning agreement.” Councilman Mike Flanigan was among those voting for the appeal Tuesday, saying that he felt the county hadn’t met that request.

“There’re basically ignoring us,” he said, noting that the matter was not discussed at either of two commission meetings since the letter was sent.

Money for city road projects will have to be transferred to the west end of the city to accommodate new county residents without any way of recouping the costs, he said.

Councilman Dick Denenny and Richard Munson also voted to appeal.

“All we are looking for is continuity in planning,” Denenny said before the vote. He said recent discussions about joint planning were positive developments, and that the city could drop its appeal if they continued.

“In the meantime, I want that option open,” he said.

Tuesday night’s meeting was the council’s last before a deadline to appeal the county’s decision.

At issue is one of six areas recently added to the growth boundary mandated by the state’s Growth Management Act.

Off Barker Road and just south of the city, the land at issue could accommodate up to 976 new houses with the county’s action. If left outside the Urban Growth Boundary, most of the land could have been developed only at rural densities.

Spokane Valley officials fear the resulting traffic could overload intersections inside the city, forcing costly upgrades.

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