Spokane lawmakers have extended a moratorium on demolishing homes in Browne’s Addition as part of a move to preserve historic neighborhoods.
The Spokane City Council also voted Monday to stop billboards from going up in neighborhood centers.
Both measures were six-month extensions of previous council actions that arose last fall amid outcry when a historic home was razed in Browne’s Addition.
The sponsors of the moratoriums, City Councilwomen Lori Kinnear and Amber Waldref, said the specific bans will give city staff time to develop changes to the ways the city permits demolition and approves signs around town.
“We haven’t looked at the demolition ordinance in years,” said Kinnear, who brought her proposal forward after residents of Spokane’s oldest neighborhood raised concerns about construction of a new apartment building near Coeur d’Alene Park that required demolition of an existing house.
Several Browne’s Addition residents testified in favor of an extension of the moratorium Monday night, saying it will give them time to seek classification as a historical district within the city.
Waldref’s proposal was made due to an exemption in the city’s laws governing signs that permits the movement of billboards if they’ve been displaced by a public works project. Waldref said that’s the only way a billboard can be moved within city limits, following revisions to city codes more than a decade ago.
“I think we need to review if it’s necessary,” Waldref said of the exemption. “It’s been used so infrequently.”
Recent requests to move billboards onto portions of Market Street in the center of the Hillyard neighborhood prompted Waldref’s request. City Planning Director Lisa Key laid out a plan to the council to review other portions of the city’s codes on signs by the end of the moratorium, which is now scheduled to expire in November.
Waldref said she wasn’t necessarily opposed to the ability to move billboards, but questioned if relocation should be permitted in historic districts or places with heavy pedestrian traffic.
“This is a weird little exception. We’re going to review it and get feedback from the community,” she said.
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