Developer Submits Building Application Prior to Annexation

Many of you saw the article in Sunday’s Spokesman Review proclaiming that Mr. Vaughn had “vested” plans for his property just prior to the City’s annexation taking effect. We wanted to post some additional information to supplement and clarify what was covered in the story.

As stated in the story, Mr. Vaughn submitted an application to the County on May 26th and it was deemed “complete” by the County Planning Department. Under Washington state law, this “vests” Mr. Vaughn’s proposal under the zoning and development rules in place at the time of the application, regardless of any changes that may be made through zoning changes, or in this case an annexation. This is the same rule that allows developers to put subdivisions in rural areas whenever the County Commissioners illegally expand the Urban Growth Area. Developers submit permit applications while the expansion is being appealed and when the expansion is overturned they are allowed to still develop their subdivisions even though the land is now back in a rural designation.

The Spokesman story leads you to believe he vested development on the entire 9-acre site, in reality he submitted four building permits for buildings on the west side of the property: two drive-thru restaurants and two retail commercial shells. The drive-thru businesses specifically would not be allowed in the City’s Center and Corridor zoning that took effect on Saturday with the annexation.

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The application to the County includes the buildings in red and the orange area called Phase 1.

Additionally, the developer is seeking a waiver requesting more parking than is allowed under the current County Mixed Use zoning. The County Code caps the parking ration at 4 parking spots per 1000 square feet of building space (the same as in Center and Corridor). The developer is asking for a ratio of 5/1000 which would shift the focus of the development further form the intent of the County zoning and create a fully auto-oriented development. This would raise the number of parking spots on the site from 263 to 348.

There are a couple of areas that Southgate Neighborhood Council is following up on now as to whether or not the proper processes were followed by the County Planning Department in accepting the application as “complete.” One area of question is the design review required for projects in the County Mixed Use Zone. According to Spokane County Zoning Code (Chapter 14.900) and comments from County Planning staff, design review is needed for all commercial development of this size in the Mixed Use Zone and was a requirement for an application to be considered complete. No design review was ever conducted on this application’s plans prior to being certified complete. This review should ensure that the proposed development meets the full requirements of the Mixed Use Zone Urban Design Standards. Not doing it in this case and adhering to the requirements of Chapter 14.900, the County lowered the bar for the application to be considered complete.

Another area we are seeking clarification about is the further processing of this application and subsequent applications moving forward. This property is now part of the City of Spokane, a portion of it may have vested under the County Mixed Use Zone, but the rest of the property is now under the jurisdiction and zoning of the City. How the current application is finally issued and future applications reviewed is something we are trying to get answered by the City and County. We hope to have an answer on that soon. The Spokesman article mentions that, “Spokane County commissioners earlier this month authorized legal staff to draft an agreement with the city that would allow county engineers and planners to continue overseeing the regulatory process for development, as long as all materials were turned in by the annexation date.” The terms of this agreement are unknown at this time and we will be asking to see a copy of that draft agreement immediately.

We were very encouraged by the City’s decision to enact the Spokane Comprehensive Plan as they considered this development in our neighborhood. We knew that a tactic like this might be something that the developer would pursue, which is his right under state law. We are disappointed, but not particularly surprised, that the County decided to work so aggressively to lower the bar on their standards and processes to accommodate the subversion of the City of Spokane’s decision. Our hope that at minimum the vested portion of this property will be reviewed and held to the highest standards and intent of the County Zoning Code and Comprehensive Plan and that the City of Spokane Planning Department and City Council will be vocal and proactive in taking steps to ensure that the City’s ordinances and policies are applied to further development in and around this property from this day forward.

We will be discussing this issue at our next neighborhood council meeting on June 8th and updating neighbors here and on our social media accounts as we receive new information. If you feel strongly about this, please contact your City Council members and let them know they need to support their annexation and integrate it into our neighborhood per the code and Comprehensive Plan.

Notice of Meeting to Adopt Changes to SNC Articles of Incorporation

** NOTICE TO MEMBERS **

Special Agenda Item for May Meeting

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

7:00pm at ESD 101 (4202 S. Regal Street)

At the beginning of the May 11th Southgate Neighborhood Council meeting, the Southgate Neighborhood Council officers will convene a special meeting for the purpose of voting to adopt amendments to the Southgate Neighborhood Council articles of incorporation.

These amendments will:

* Expand the statements of the purposes of the organization to provisions restricting activities to charitable purposes in conformance with Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code.

* Update all provisions required by Washington law at Chapter 24.03 RCW, Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act.

The proposed amendments will serve to qualify the Southgate Neighborhood Council for recognition by the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so contributions to Southgate are federal income tax deductible.

The proposed amendments amount to a complete substitution for the original Southgate articles of incorporation from 2008.

They are posted on the Southgate Neighborhood Council web site as SNC Articles of Incorporation Amendment Exhibit A: https://southgatespokane.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/snc-articles-of-amendment-exhibit-a1.pdf  

 

Community Meeting Scheduled for Proposed Assisted Living Facility on Freya Street

Last week a Notice of Community Meeting was posted on the property of the formerly proposed Extendicare Assisted Living property on the east side of Freya at 44th Avenue. The meeting will be held at 6:00 PM on Tuesday, May 3rd at the Southside Senior Center (3151 E. 27th Avenue).

The developers are applying for a Conditional Use Permit to build a complex of 5 assisted living residential homes called Seasons on the South Hill. According to discussions with the City Planning Department, each “house” will have 16 beds for a total of 80 residents plus staff.  The applicants already operate a similar facility in Idaho called The Renaissance at Coeur d’Alene.

Assisted Living site plan April 2016

This site is zoned Single-family Residential and was subject to an approved Conditional Use Permit back in 2008 that has since expired. The plan at that time was to build a large multi-story assisted living facility on the property. This new proposal seeks to get the same use approved, but the scale has been shrunk (80 residents vs. 120). According to the Planning Staff there will be no new SEPA application or traffic study since they were done for the previous Conditional Use Permit and the proposed use is the same, but at a reduced scale (hence less environment/traffic impact).

The proposed site plan from 2008.
The proposed site plan from 2008.

If you look at the site plan you can see that they have retained a buffer between the new 44th Avenue Trail and the nearest proposed building. They are also going to make frontage improvements along Freya Street that will include sidewalks and planting strips. These details will likely be shown in more detail at the Community Meeting and after a scheduled Pre-Development Meeting between the developer and the City scheduled for April 28th.

We will keep you posted on more information as we get it. For now, you can make comments about the project to the applicant Valerie Glauser via email or at 208-964-1664. You can also contact the City and speak to Donna deBit.

City Shares Draft Master Plan for Southeast Sports Complex

Updated plan retains more sports fields and parking, includes new trail and streetscape amenities.

The City of Spokane Parks and Recreation Department presented the draft Master Plan for the Southeast Sports Complex at our April neighborhood council meeting. This plan is the result of the vision process and meetings that took place last year with Southgate residents and sports user-groups.

This plan incorporates the latest information available from the KXLY developers for the proposed access to their Southgate District Center property using the west leg of the new stoplight at Palouse and Regal. The Parks Board has approved a Letter of Intent providing for an “easement in perpetuity” and “shared parking agreement” that will allow KXLY to develop a road through the existing Complex parking lot and replace it with shared parking on their private property. These two conditions are still being reviewed by City legal for their conformance with Spokane Municipal Code.

The presentation at our meeting focused on the increased overall parking which was the highest priority issue identified by sports users and Southgate residents during the visioning meetings last year. The initial plan for angle parking along 46th Avenue has been replaced with basic parallel parking, though there is still angle parking and a new trailhead proposed for the west side of the park along Altamont Street. The new Master Plan also retains more of the softball facilities than originally proposed last year after that user group made additional comments to the Parks Department. Another new feature is a 4th full-size soccer field to be located on KXLY property to the south of the existing park. So the sports users are going to continue to have the highest priority use of the facility.

General recreation and neighborhood users will be happy to see the development of an expanded playground area with a proposed splash pad, improved and expanded picnic/multi-use shelters and amphitheaters throughout the Complex. Another major feature will be the addition of a multi-use trail around the Complex that ties into and extends the trail running along the Target site on Palouse Hwy.

Lastly, the Parks Department envisions developing a gateway/enhanced streetscape along Regal Street to buffer the park uses from the road and encourage integration and connection with the District Center commercial development. They also mentioned that there is an opportunity to rename the park to better reflect the history and character of the Southgate Neighborhood.

So take a look at the proposal, please feel free to make comments on the plan (and the name) and send them to both the neighborhood council and parks department. For example, the draft plan shows a sand volleyball court near the new playground, however the consensus of the attendees at the neighborhood council meeting was to change that to a basketball court instead. We will be having more meetings with the Parks Department and KXLY developers as the year moves forward and your comments can help guide the direction of the final project.

Gas Station Being Planned for 44th and Regal

Earlier this month the City of Spokane held a pre-development meeting with representatives of Maverik gas stations to discuss the construction of a station at the corner of 44th and Regal Street where Harlan Douglass had proposed a WalMart back in 2007 and where Cool Beans Coffee stand now sits.

A preliminary site plan for a gas station at 44th Ave. and Regal Street.
A preliminary site plan for a gas station at 44th Ave. and Regal Street.

As word got out some immediate questions were raised by neighbors about the ability too place a gas station so close to existing wetlands and a Department of Natural Resources (DNS) designated stream, Hazel’s Creek. In speaking with City planning staff, they are aware of those issues and have notified the applicant through their pre-development meeting notes of the restrictions related to these issues in Spokane Municipal Code.

The applicant will be submitting a revised site plan and there should be some neighborhood notification when the developer actually applies for building permits. If there is a public comment period open on this we will make sure to let you know.