From Sprague Avenue to Greenacres, it’s been a source of concern: when to let someone know that their property zoning could change and how to do it.
Susan Scott, who owns a business on Sprague, told the council earlier this year that “Spokane Valley city staff made a calculated decision to ignore both public and private appeals to send specific written notice to property owners” when developing the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan. Instead, she said, the city opted to publish notices in local newspapers and invite business owners to planning workshops.
Two years earlier, residents in the northern part of Greenacres took council members to task – and Spokane County officials before them – when zoning was slated to change to allow for smaller lots in that area.
On Tuesday night during a workshop session, City Council members agreed to make a stronger effort to let property owners know about potential zone changes. The question before them, though, was what number of parcels triggers that notification?
Council Member Bill Gothmann said he had a solution.
“One thousand or less,” he said. “I’d like to see it done. It’s been a perennial problem for this city, and it needs to be done. We still have people complaining about it.”
Council Member Rose Dempsey agreed, saying it “makes people a little less anxious.”
To change how Spokane Valley notifies its citizens of possible changes to its comprehensive plan map, policy changes or municipal code revisions, money will have to be budgeted for postage and staff time, said Kathy McClung, community development director. To send out about 400 notices costs the city about $1,000, she said.
“But (an upper limit of) 1,000 (notices) is an option,” she said.
Council Member Gary Schimmels said the expense is “the cost of doing business” and that the city should “try it and run with it for a while.”
Mayor Richard Munson agreed.
“It’s something that we should be looking at seriously,” he said. “There’s been some consternation. It is unfortunate we can’t get everyone to pay attention like we’d like them to.”
In other news, the council agreed with Munson’s recommendation to confirm the appointment of John Carroll, Marcia Sands and Rustin Hall to three-year terms on the city’s Planning Commission. All are currently serving on the volunteer board.
Also, the council confirmed newcomer Arne Woodard to a two-year term beginning in January to the commission. Woodward will fill the vacancy of Tom Towey, who will be joining the council in January after running unopposed for the seat being vacated by Dick Denenny.
Woodard is a broker/owner at K-C Properties and a 25-year resident of Spokane Valley.