It’s not something that city of Spokane Valley planners have faced every day, but it’s come up often enough as of late: How much space is appropriate in cases where single-family homes are adjacent to larger housing developments like apartments or retirement homes.
The answer, it turns out, is an increased from 5 feet to 10 feet from the property line. That was the recommendation from the city Planning Commission to the City Council on Oct. 11.
The commission also recommends that where new multi-family development abuts an adjacent parcel with a single-family use or zone, the height of the new building may not increase by more than 45 degrees when measured from the angle that originates at 25 feet above the adjoining property. This tapered approach means that a three- or four-story sheer wall of an apartment will not be built directly next to a one- or two-story home.
City planners had been asked to revisit the code pertaining to setbacks after a couple of instances where developer’s agreements have been required in order to mitigate concerns of neighbors that new, larger construction projects were being built too close to single-family neighborhood homes.
The most recent instance came this summer when a developer sought to build upscale apartments near homes in the area of Conklin and Broadway. Neighbors were concerned that apartment-dwellers would be able to look out windows into backyards. The developer eventually agreed to increase setbacks from 5 feet from 10 around the perimeter of the new complex.
Mike Basinger, senior planner, said the new standards closely mirror those already in place in the city of Spokane and Spokane County.
“I’d go with the Planning Commission recommendation,” said Mayor Tom Towey. “It’s compatible with the jurisdictions around us.”
Council Member Brenda Grassel is the only one of seven who appears to be reluctant to make the change, as she fears the setback isn’t going to be far enough to alleviate future concerns.
“Maybe 25 feet is too much, but couldn’t we go with 20 or 15?” she asked. “I don’t know if we’ve solved the problem.”
Council Member Dean Grafos said he believes it’s a good compromise.
“I think this would be a real step forward,” he said. “I think the Planning Commission recommendation is the right approach.”
The council agreed by consensus to have the code-text amendment before them for final approval at its Nov. 13 meeting.
In other news, the council:
- Agreed to apply for a pair of Community Development Block Grant-funded projects, as $259,000 has been set aside for Spokane Valley for 2013. The first is the resurfacing of Adams Road from Sprague to Fourth Avenue, which is estimated to cost $213,000. The second is the resurfacing of Fourth Avenue from Park to Thierman roads, estimated at $184,000.
- Approved amendments to the city’s nuisance code pertaining to property and noise.
- Awarded Aztech Electric Inc., the lowest bidder at $949,160, the construction contract for the Intelligent Transportation Systems improvements on Pines Road between Trent and Pines. The federally funded project will install fiber optic cable, three traffic cameras and connect traffic signals to the Spokane Regional Transportation Management Center in order to improve traffic flow.