AIRWAY HEIGHTS – The city wants feedback and ideas from residents about development possibilities for 400 acres of county land near Hayford Road and Highway 2 at a city workshop Aug. 6.
The Planning Department is updating the city’s comprehensive plan and may change the zoning requirements for the parcel, also known as the Spokane County West Plains Urban Growth Area/Joint Planning Area.
“We’re asking, ‘Should there be more housing down here, should there be more commercial?’ You know, identifying the appropriate land use that would coexist with the housing,” said Ian Horlacher, city planner.
The land currently is home to Wal-Mart, Dealer’s Auto Auction, Deer Creek apartments, Hayford Heights apartments and Cedar Summit apartments – about 1,000 housing units total. Ninety-five percent of the land is occupied, Horlacher said.
“Especially as this area goes from a rural setting to an urban setting, that feedback is going to become more important as the area develops,” Horlacher said. Airway Heights has been growing rapidly over the past five years and as the city looks to the next 20 years, feedback from citizens is crucial.
Horlacher noted that Spokane County has jurisdiction of the land and nothing can be rezoned without the county’s say.
“We’d like the county to take into consideration that feedback,” Horlacher said. Because of the steady growth of Airway Heights and Spokane County, the two entities are currently in conversation about how they’ll jointly govern all the land they’ll eventually share.
“It’s a fairly contentious issue,” Horlacher said.
Dick Vandervert, owner of Vandervert Construction, LLC, owns about 18 percent of the parcel. Vandervert has taken Spokane County to court over zoning for the land, and said he’s been frustrated working with the county. He’s currently in discussion with Airway Heights about annexing portions of the land for his development plans. If annexed, the city would possibly be more lenient with Vandervert about zoning requirements.
Vandervert said he’s interested in building more housing, more hotels, banks, retail and even an assisted living care center.
“Paying taxes on it every year and spraying the noxious weeds every year – we’d like to make a profit on it every year,” Vandervert said.
The land is mostly zoned for light industrial and commercial uses. Unless they get significant feedback from the public, Horlacher said the city may just keep the comprehensive plan as is.