New building codes, landscaping and comprehensive plan amendments were center stage Tuesday during the Spokane Valley City Council meeting.
It was the council’s first look at the plan amendments that the city’s planning commission has recommended for approval.
Arger Co. Real Estate is requesting a change from low-density residential to garden office for a portion of a large parcel east of Evergreen Road and south of Springfield Avenue. The land begins where Alki dead-ends west of Best Road.
There is office zoning to the south and the newly rezoned section would be accessed from Evergreen, senior planner Mike Basinger said.
The height limit in a garden office is 45 feet. “It’s a height that’s more compatible with the residential neighborhood,” Basinger said.
Dennis Crapo is requesting that two parcels on Boone Avenue just north of Interstate 90 and west of Barker Road be rezoned from low-density residential to high-density residential. Each parcel has a single-family home and there is an existing apartment complex immediately to the east, Basinger said.
Neighbors who testified at a previous public hearing said they were concerned that a new apartment complex would block their views and create traffic problems.
The city brought forward an amendment to rezone several parcels located between I-90 and Fourth Avenue west of Eastern Road from office to community commercial. Nearly all businesses in that area are nonconforming, Basinger said. Community commercial zoning allows the same uses as office zoning plus a few more, he said. “We’re not taking anything away from the property owners,” he said.
Harlan Douglass, who owns the parcel that houses a mini-storage business, sent a letter to the planning commission requesting that the zoning not be changed. The commission voted to recommend changing the zoning on the property anyway because Douglass wasn’t specific about why he didn’t want the change. Mayor Tom Towey asked if the council could decide to leave Douglass’ property out of the rezoning.
“We don’t believe it would hurt anything to leave that property as office,” Basinger said. “We felt like putting them in a conforming status would be something they were thrilled with, but that was not the case.”
Several council members said they would prefer to leave Douglass’ property out of the rezone. “Just because we can change the zoning doesn’t mean we should do it,” said Councilman Dean Grafos.
“If that’s the way they want it, that’s the way I’d leave it,” said Councilman Rod Higgins.
In other business, the council heard a report on new state building codes that take effect July 1. “There are some significant changes,” said senior plans examiner Jenny Nickerson. “Code updates of this magnitude can lead to increased construction costs.”
New multifamily housing and commercial buildings must now be tested for air leakage, which was previously only required for new single-family homes. Energy monitoring systems are now required on large buildings. Drywall or wood sheathing is now required on the underside of most floor joists.
“We could be seeing the end of unfinished basement ceilings,” Nickerson said.
The city will probably see an increase in permit applications in June as developers try to beat the deadline, Nickerson said. The city anticipates a temporary increase in the time it takes to process permits once the new rules go into effect, she said.
The council also heard a report on the cost to add landscaping along Appleway Boulevard. The first phase, between Dora and Park, would cost an estimated $209,000, said Public Works Director Eric Guth. The section from Park to Dishman-Mica Road is estimated at $1.8 million and the section between Dishman-Mica and University Road is estimated at nearly $1.7 million.
The city likely won’t be able to get any grant funding for the project because it is landscaping, Guth said.
Councilman Chuck Hafner suggested doing the smaller, cheaper first phase between Dora and Park. “That’s where we could start,” he said. “It’s the entrance to our city. I think it’s important that we begin somewhere.”
Councilman Ben Wick said he likes the landscaping idea, but the city also has to come up with funding to replace the Sullivan Bridge and has been discussing a new city hall. “We have a lot of big projects looming over our heads,” he said.
Towey suggested moving forward with phase one and then talking about how and when to fund the other two phases at the council’s budget retreat in June.
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