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.
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.
On Monday, April 11th, the City Council voted to approve the Spokane Housing ventures Annexation that has been under consideration for almost a year now. The action brings about 37 acres of new land between Regal and Freya Street into the Southgate Neighborhood. The Council further voted to bring the land into the neighborhood under the Center and Corridor land use category, which was the position of the neighborhood council since this time last year.
As we mentioned at our March Neighborhood Council meeting, there was a lot of controversy surrounding the land use and zoning related to the former South Regal Lumber site. SNC had made the point that the City Comprehensive Plan and our Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan supported the designation of this land as Center and Corridor rather then General Commercial land use and zoning. We are very happy to have the City Council support our viewpoint by a 6-1 margin, but more importantly we are happy to have the City Council support the City Comprehensive Plan and its goals and policies.
The Spokesman-Review is reporting that the City is facing a threatened lawsuit from the developer for taking this action. I want to thank everyone that contacted the City Council regarding this issue. We were told that public input was a big part in the consideration of this issue over the past few months. I would also encourage you to contact your City Council members one last time to thank them for standing with the Comp Plan and the neighborhood to enact the vision so many people worked to create through our neighborhood planning process.
We will keep everyone updated on any further action or outcomes from the annexation. This is one case where it paid to get informed and stay involved. I look forward to seeing everyone at our future Neighborhood Council meetings where we will continue to discuss issues related to the safety and quality of life for Southgate residents.
Tomorrow night the City Council will be considering the land use and zoning of the Spokane Housing Ventures annexation that includes the former South Regal Lumber site. If you’ll recall from last month, at issue with whether the former lumber site will be given a General Commercial land use designation with Community Business zoning that is the request of the developer or will the City Council decide to make its land use and zoning Center and Corridor as is more in line with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan.
I encourage all of you to please send an email to our City Council members encouraging them to follow the Comprehensive and neighborhood plans and supports the Center and Corridor zoning. Here are the Council members email addresses:
Here are some points to consider again while shaping your comments:
Voting for Center and Corridor land use and zoning will result in zoning that better supports the vision of the city’s Comprehensive Plan and the Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan for vibrant, walkable neighborhoods.
The current zoning in the County is “Mixed-Use” which is the County’s most pedestrian-oriented zoning. In fact, the County Comprehensive Plan explicitly states that it is designed to, “discourage auto-dependent uses and encourage pedestrian orientation with an emphasis on aesthetics and design.”
The most pedestrian-oriented zoning in the City is “Center and Corridor” which focuses on creating commercial zones that have a mix of uses and encourages pedestrian-oriented, auto-accommodating designs to provide options for residents of the surrounding neighborhood.
Comprehensive Plan Land Use Goal 10.3 says that the City must, “honor the intent of adopted county plans and ordinances for areas proposed to be annexed.” As you can see above, the intent of the Mixed-use zoning is to provide pedestrian-oriented development that makes it easier for people to get to and use the site without a car.
The area is surrounded by 12 apartment communities within a quarter mile, including 360 apartments that are part of the proposed annexation. This high-density housing concentration makes this area a prime candidate for pedestrian-oriented development.
There is a Comp Plan-designated District Center at 57th and Regal Street, and multiple city maps and plans indicate that this property is destined to be part of that Center. The City’s Official Land Use Map shows these properties as part of the future District Center.
The City’s Pedestrian Master Plan adopted in November of 2015 has a map titled Centers and Corridors and Downtown Zoningwhich includes all County Neighborhood Center and Mixed Use zones. This indicates that as late as November last year the City Planning Department considered Mixed Use zones in the County to be comparable to the City’s Center and Corridor Zoning. That area just south of the proposed annexation is part of the UGA and will someday be part of the City and Southgate Neighborhood. It makes sense to plan in a coordinated manner and not create an island of General Commercial zoning between two District Centers on Regal Street.
Neighbors are concerned about the increased traffic that such high-density, auto-oriented development will bring to Regal Street. A way to mitigate that increased traffic is to design projects that encourage people to use the site without their car. Every person that can walk or bike to the site is one less car on the road contributing to congestion. It’s not about limiting cars, but providing easier alternatives to them.
Center and Corridor zoning provides elevated standards for design and function that encourage pedestrian and non-motorized use of the area and forwards our goal of creating a safe, vibrant neighborhood streetscape. Without this zoning, the development can move ahead in an auto-oriented manner that will increase traffic along Regal Street while discouraging non-motorized use of the area by residents of the 12 apartment communities within a quarter mile of the site.
Please send in your comments to the City Council, they told us at the last hearing that the amount of input from the community is what made them reconsider the zoning and extend the hearing for a month. If any of you can also come in person to lend your support for the Center and Corridor zoning of this area it will have a major impact on the Council’s actions. The Council meeting is at 6pm, Monday night at Spokane City Hall.
Thank you for making your voice heard to build a better neighborhood. If you have any questions please let us know.
Southgate Neighborhood Council and some neighbors provided written comments and testimony in support of the annexation, but with the condition that the retail and apartment portions be brought into the city as Center and Corridor zones that better meet the current land use designations out in the County and will help implement the City Comprehensive Plan and Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan.
You can watch the hearing as broadcast on City Channel 5 on Vimeo (the annexation hearing starts at about an hour and 8 minutes): https://vimeo.com/154777568
The Council decided not to vote on the land use designations, but rather opted to leave the record open for the next 30 days so citizens can submit more written comments. On Monday, March 14th, the Council will hold a second hearing on the annexation and vote on both the land use and the overall annexation on that day.
I want to thank everyone that submitted comments prior to this hearing, the Council said they had a large number of comments from all over the South Hill and beyond which is why they decided to defer their vote and keep the record open to hear even more feedback. So please, keep talking to your neighbors and encourage them to send comments in to the City Council. You can find all of their email addresses here.
We will keep you aware of any new developments over the next 30 days, I hope we will see even more neighbors down at City Hall on March 14th to tell the Council what they think about this topic.