A landowner has submitted a proposal that could lead to 31 new homes near outdoor-recreation area Beacon Hill.
The plans lay the framework for a small looped neighborhood on a hillside overlooking the Spokane River.
The 21-acre property sits on the north side of Upriver Drive just west of the John C. Shields and Camp Sekani parks, which attract throngs of hikers and mountain bikers. Popular rock climbing area Minnehaha Park also is nearby.
Jim and Ann Degon bought the property about 45 years ago as an investment, and they’ve lived on it for about seven years, said Ron Hansen, a real estate broker who’s serving as their representative.
The couple want to keep a 7-acre portion of the land for themselves and zone the surrounding vacant area for other homes, with most of the lots ranging from 0.3 to 0.5 acres. Hansen said water would likely come from the city of Spokane’s system, and sewer lines would be extended from the nearby intersection of Upriver and Frederick Avenue.
Under the current proposal, crafted by Whipple Consulting Engineers, the northern portion of the property would be divided into four 2-acre lots. Hansen said those lots would probably be suitable for building homes, although that terrain is steeper and driveway access could be an issue.
“You get some pretty nice views as you get up there,” he said.
Hansen said the Degons had been approached by developers wanting to build up to 60 tightly-packed homes, but would rather have a more “attractive” neighborhood that “fits with the area and the river.”
The couple plan to sell the land surrounding their home to a developer if Spokane County officials approve the rezoning. It’s still early in the process, and a second public hearing is scheduled for March 14.
Not everyone is thrilled about the proposal.
Nick Worthington lives on a 5-acre ranch that abuts the west side of the Degons’ land.
“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Worthington, 65. “My parents bought this place right after World War II.”
He has a horse and a mule and a living room filled with old guns and trophy antlers. When police aren’t practice-shooting at the academy across the river, it’s generally a quiet getaway, he said.
If a neighborhood springs up around him, Worthington said, “there goes my privacy.”
Mountain bikers aren’t so concerned, however.
The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance maintains an expansive trail system on Beacon Hill and has tried to curb other developments by nominating land for the county’s Conservation Futures program. Some trails wind around the Degons’ land, but not through it.
“The trails, based on our understanding, won’t be affected in any way, shape or form” by the Degons’ proposal, said Alec Josephson, the group’s trail coordinator. But “if there’s any opportunity to work with the developer, we want to make sure we can do that.”
Specifically, Josephson said, the group would like to have easy access points between the neighborhood and surrounding natural terrain, “to uphold Spokane’s ‘near nature, near perfect’ motto.”
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