The Spokane Valley City Council will consider denying a zoning change that could bring a possible multi-use development to the Ponderosa neighborhood.
Dennis Crapo of Diamond Rock Construction Inc. is seeking a zoning change from single family residential to corridor mixed-use for a 5-acre parcel that’s located adjacent to the Forest Meadows subdivision.
The zoning change – which would allow for light manufacturing, office buildings and multifamily development – drew criticism from several nearby residents. Crapo indicated plans on a traffic study to develop a project with more than 60 apartments and a 15,000-square-foot retail use building.
“We would not ever assume apartments would be built back there,” Galen Pavliska, a resident, told The Spokesman-Review in March. “We don’t think anything should be built out there. Not even a single family home. We like it here. It’s beautiful. Deer go down there.”
Corridor mixed-use is typically intended for major transportation corridors such as Sprague Avenue and major north-south arterials. Most commercial development in the area along Dishman-Mica Road occurred north of the Union Pacific tracks running parallel to the proposed development.
When Crapo initially purchased the land and subdivided it into six lots, he also raised the land elevation out of the floodplain. He built homes, sold them to residents and used the 5-acre parcel for stormwater drainage.
Residents raised concerns about flooding because the parcel is located 200 feet south of Chester Creek in a 100-year floodplain. They said Crapo told them there wouldn’t be additional development in the nearby lot because it’s in the floodplain.
Residents appealed an environmental review in March for the proposed development. Among their concerns were an increase in traffic, drop in property values and potential overcrowding in nearby schools.
Spokane Valley’s hearing examiner ruled in favor of Crapo, but because the proposal is a comprehensive plan amendment, it was sent back to the planning commission for final consideration.
“We did lose, but I think we sent a very clear message that we aren’t going to take this sort of stuff laying down,” said neighbor Al Merkel, who assisted residents with appealing the project’s environmental review.
The planning commission voted 6 to 1 to deny the zoning change because it would not be compatible with the low-density single family residential neighborhood.
City officials at a council meeting Tuesday agreed to move forward with the planning commission’s recommendation that the proposal isn’t consistent with Spokane Valley’s comprehensive plan.
Merkel said the planning commission exhibited a willingness to listen to residents’ concerns.
“I feel sorry that so much time and capital was spent on developing land that was a no-go,” Merkel said. “That’s a waste on the entire community. If we had more obvious regulations in place that the developer could have seen from the front end, our money wouldn’t have been wasted. I still chalk it up to a win for the neighborhood.”
Merkel said as more residents are taking notice of development in their neighborhoods, he hopes they will also participate in the city’s process for comprehensive plan amendments.
“The community is watching our leaders and what they are doing,” he said. “They are clearly unified in seeing we have sensible development.”
City Council will vote on the comprehensive plan amendment at a July 31 meeting.
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