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Friday, October 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington Voices

Spokane Valley comprehensive plan under review

Nina Fluegal put up a sign in front of her home to protest an apartment complex recently built next to her backyard. (Pia Hallenberg)
Nina Fluegal put up a sign in front of her home to protest an apartment complex recently built next to her backyard. (Pia Hallenberg)

She’s the first to admit she could have checked things out more carefully, but when Nina Fluegal purchased a home on East Fourth Avenue in Spokane Valley in 2006, she never imagined she’d become the neighbor of the two-story apartment complex that’s now looming over her house.

Bordering Fluegal’s backyard to the north and to the west sits Diamond Rock Construction’s nearly finished Blake Apartments at 13313 E. Fourth Ave. Fluegal said the new development is intruding on her privacy and has caused drainage problems in her backyard.

“I can’t believe they can build this close,” Fluegal said, gesturing at the buildings.

But they can.

Spokane Valley Senior Planner Lori Barlow said Diamond Rock Construction’s project on Fourth Avenue is in full compliance with all rules and regulations.

Tonight the Spokane Valley Planning Commission will look at a new citizen-initiated comprehensive plan amendment request – or CAR – submitted by Dennis Crapo of Diamond Rock Construction for another lot on Fourth Avenue, along with more than two dozen other rezoning requests in the Valley.

Spokane Valley is updating and amending its comprehensive plan – a process required by state law to go through every eight years and which is expected to be complete by June 2017.

Barlow said the city has hired consultants to help it work through the process, which so far has consisted of four public “visioning” meetings to collect ideas and opinions from Spokane Valley residents.

“That’s the most important part of this process,” Barlow said.

Spokane Valley is required to have a comprehensive plan by the 1990 Washington State Growth Management Act.

The Growth Management Act established 14 statewide goals for issues such as sprawl reduction, environmental protection and property rights, and Spokane Valley’s comprehensive plan must be in compliance with these goals.

“The comprehensive plan is the guide,” Barlow said. “The zoning is the actual law.”

She added that the most important thing to know about tonight’s meeting is that nothing is going to change today.

“We are looking at all the requests we have and deciding whether to include them in the process of updating the comprehensive plan or not,” Barlow said.

Fluegal is not reassured.

When she spotted another large “notice of planned public hearing” sign on Fourth Avenue, she sprung into action:

She made 200 fliers featuring the sign and went door to door in her neighborhood asking people to show up at the public hearing tonight.

She also took the unorthodox step of putting a homemade sign in her front yard which reads in part: “Say no to Crapo – no rezoning.”

Crapo declined to comment on Fluegal’s sign or the rezoning he’s seeking for the Fourth Avenue property.

Fluegal is not the only neighbor who’s been going door to door along Fourth Avenue.

Dick Grove, who lives on South Vercler Road just south of Fourth Avenue, said new apartments in the neighborhood will bring more traffic and just don’t fit with the character of the area.

Grove is encouraging his neighbors to go to tonight’s meeting, though he’s not sure it will make a difference.

“You only have three minutes to say your piece,” Grove said.

That may be, but Barlow said any testimony for or against a CAR is taken into consideration by the Planning Commission and it’s kept on file by the city.

Testimony may be submitted via letter, email or at the meeting tonight.

“It’s absolutely important to the process,” Barlow said.

Barlow added there are so many CARs on tonight’s agenda that the Planning Commission is expecting to meet again on Monday to finish reviewing them all.

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