Spokane Valley City Council members mulled a proposed zone change Tuesday that would allow for apartments to be built in the Greenacres area at Barker and Sprague.
Council members weighed the pros and cons and are poised to make a decision on whether to move forward on the proposal, which would redesignate five acres from low-density to high-density residential, at its meeting next Tuesday.
The majority of the council members said they were still undecided on the controversial issue, which has generated strong opposition from residents living in that area. When the matter went before the Planning Commission earlier this year, it voted to recommend the council reject the proposal.
The narrowness of Barker Road – already clogged with traffic at peak times of the day – along with overcrowding in the Central Valley School District and the erosion of a rural area that is rife with horses and other livestock have all been touted as reasons for the council to deny the switch proposed by Whipple Consulting Engineers. Todd Whipple of the firm has countered that the city is in need of more high-density housing.
“We have to make an extremely difficult decision,” said Council Member Chuck Hafner, who said it was important to consider the integrity of that neighborhood. “We need to look at the bigger picture.”
Also leaning toward denial is Council Member Ed Pace.
“It might not technically be a rural neighborhood, but, by god, it feels like one,” he said.
Deputy Mayor Arne Woodard said he had yet to make up his mind.
“You have to weigh in property rights,” he said. “That’s where it gets difficult for me.”
Council Member Rod Higgins added that “Barker Road doesn’t support the traffic that’s there right now – just an observation.”
Next Tuesday, if the council decides any action should be taken on the issue, the first reading would come May 27. Final approval would follow June 10.