The Spokane Valley City Council may have taken the week off, but it will be back to business next Tuesday when members will be asked to decide on a zone change that could mean a new apartment complex in the area of Conklin and Broadway.
The council held off on making a decision on the zone change last month after a considerable amount of public testimony, but city staff members had more information last week. After hearing the report June 12, there was some back-and-forth among council members before agreeing to hear a motion next Tuesday without requiring a developer’s agreement to mitigate nearby residents’ concerns about potential impacts to the neighborhood.
“I think I’d like to move forward with this,” said Council Member Dean Grafos, adding that he was in favor of the staff’s recommendation to rezone property at 601 N. Conklin from medium to high density. “It’s consistent with the municipal code and the comprehensive plan.”
Many neighbors testified on May 22 that the apartment complex, which could have as many as 373 apartments with a low-income-housing density bonus in the high-density zone classification, would be obtrusive. That thread was again picked up on June 12, however the property owner has indicated he would not seek the low-income housing density bonus. Instead, it’s likely that a 233-unit, more-upscale complex would be built, according to developer Greg Arger.
“This would be a monster in our back yard,” said Vicki Endicott, who lives nearby on Conklin. “This does not fit in our neighborhood.”
Neighbor Jan Wold agreed, saying, “We pay taxes too.”
Council Member Brenda Grassel suggested that the issue be sent back to the Planning Commission for another round of hearings, but Mayor Tom Towey said he doubted it would yield any new insight.
“If we send it back to the Planning Commission, I don’t think we’re going to get any new information,” he said.
Grassel disagreed, saying there has been new information coming forward that the Planning Commission did not hear the first time around.
“I think it’s only right for the surrounding neighborhood to have a voice in this conversation,” she said.
Council Member Arne Woodard said he isn’t sure how he will ultimately vote, but he is convinced it’s the council that should made a decision soon
“My short take is that we’re kicking the can down the street (if we send this to the Planning Commission),” he said.
In other business on June 26, the council will consider a proposed interlocal agreement with Spokane County that could see a multi-use trail built on the Milwaukee Railroad right-of-way owned by the county east of where Appleway Boulevard terminates at University Road.
Under the agreement, the county would continue to own the land but both jurisdictions would apply for grants to build and maintain the trail.