Water has been a reoccurring theme at Millwood City Hall in the first part of 2012.
In addition to talk of increasing water rates at the city-owned utility, the town’s governing board is keeping track of an update to a shoreline management plan that addresses just over 1.4 miles of land along the banks of the Spokane River.
With no wetlands or lakes over 20 acres, Millwood is concentrating on riverside property that is roughly one-third residential and two-thirds industrial, according to Ray Oligher, an assistant planner with the city.
Millwood’s abridgement of its shoreline regulations is part of a statewide mandate overseen by the Washington Department of Ecology. Neighboring cities like Spokane Valley are also at work on document updates.
At Monday night’s City Council meeting, Oligher provided the latest information on a process that includes input from a citizens advisory committee organized last year. The most significant stakeholder, the Inland Empire Paper mill, is represented by Doug Krapes, responsible for environmental and ecological issues at the city’s commercial hub and namesake.
Oligher told the council that the main emphasis of the revised approach in each town and city across Washington is “to make sure functioning of the shoreline does not get any worse over time.”
“There are things above us on the river that we need to be aware of that affect our shoreline,” Oligher added.
The citizens committee, which includes three Millwood residents (one of whom lives on the river) began meeting last November. Millwood Mayor Dan Mork, City Clerk Tom Richardson and Oligher are also part of the group. The March meeting included a representative from DOE.
“The committee has done an excellent job of representing all the viewpoints along the river,” Oligher said.
The updating process in Millwood involves the collaboration of over a dozen citizen groups as well as municipal, state and federal agencies. The list includes the city of Spokane Valley, the Spokane Tribe, Washington Department of Transportation and Spokane Riverkeeper.
Oligher said the residential portion of the riverbank within municipal boundaries “is in better ecological shape” than the side that is located within unincorporated Spokane County. The homes along the river have been platted as residential since the early days of Millwood going back to the early part of the 20th century.
The mill, which has been producing paper in the town since 1911, keeps a 50-foot natural space between the river and commercial property.
Both the paper mill and those who live near the tributary “have been good stewards of the river,” Oligher said.
The timeline for approval of the update involves having draft documents to the Millwood Planning Commission by October, followed by a work session with City Council in November. By December, the council will likely vote on the revisions with a goal of having the approved changes to DOE by the end of the year.
A 60-day comment period is required before final approval by DOE.
In other council news:
- Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich provided a quarterly report to City Council on Monday, noting that the crime rate in the city decreased 10 percent between 2010 and 2011. Knezovich said jurisdictions in the county are safer when residents alert police of suspected crime, from suspicious vehicles to drug activity. “We have great success when citizens call in,” he said.
- The city will observe Arbor Day on Saturday, April 21, with a tree-planting event on Dalton Avenue starting at 9 a.m. Beginning at 10 a.m., residents with a coupon can bring “clean green” waste to City Hall, 9103 E. Frederick Ave., where a bin will be parked for free disposal.
- For the first time since Millwood incorporated in 1927, the City Council will meet on a day other than the first Monday of each month. The council unanimously approved the schedule change to the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Richardson said the new format will mean a better opportunity to provide the latest financial reports.