The City’s Staff Report for the Garden District came out last Monday. In summary, the City concludes that this PUD design does not meet the City connectivity standards and should have a connection between Crestline and Southeast Blvd: “Staff is concerned that the site plan is inconsistent with several of the policies…and does not achieve the connectivity envisioned by the Comprehensive Plan and the City’s Arterial Street Plan. In order to satisfy this approval criteria, Staff believes street connections for vehicles must be provided by “Crestline Street” from the intersection of Crestline St and 34th Ave to the intersection of Southeast Blvd and 31st Ave intersection per the Comprehensive Plan Map TR 12.” (Staff Report, Page 6) So in essence the report agrees with SNC’s position that City code and Comp Plan policy say a connection is required.
The Hearing Examiner hearing on the Garden District PUD will be this Wednesday, December 12th at 1:30pm in the Commissioner Assembly Room, Lower Level of the Spokane County Public Works Buildings at 1026 W. Broadway. The County Hearing Examiner will be taking public testimony on this matter and then render a decision to approve or deny the proposed PUD plan.
SNC submitted comments during the SEPA Public Comment Period and they are part of the record and establish our standing to appeal if desired. You should still provide comments in person as well to give a physical voice to the idea (per our comments) that there should be a connection between Crestline and Southeast Blvd.
Thoughts on City’s Recommendations
Now SNC’s position differs a bit from the City’s conclusions in a couple areas. Starting on page 11, the Staff Report the City begins listing their recommendations and conditions including reiterating the need for the Crestline connection. That is a good conclusion and consistent with SNC’s comments. However, it says in point 2a that, “The vehicular connection shall be built to City of Spokane Street Standards.” Starting with the City standards is good, but the current arterial standards may well create an auto-oriented road through the PUD. While SNC supports creating a connection that accommodates all modes of transportation, including autos, an auto-oriented connection is not what anyone desires.
A possible solution: the road could be built to a residential street standard even if it is officially an “arterial”. The precedent for this is 44th Avenue between Freya and Regal in Southgate. This street is designated the same level of arterial as Crestline is currently (a Minor Collector), however the road design is a traffic-calmed one with enhanced pedestrian facilities and a 25mph speed limit. What is more important than the road’s designation is its design. Accordingly, the connection through the Garden District should be auto-accommodating per the code and Comp Plan, but the design should prioritize pedestrian and non-motorized user comfort given the road’s designation as a Bikeway in the Spokane Bike Master Plan and the CC1 zoning within the PUD.
Another place where the design standard would differ from the intent to create a pedestrian-emphasized streetscape is on page 14, condition 24e which states, “A minimum of thirty-foot radii are required for residential and arterial intersections.” So what this means is that along Crestline’s intersections with the other roads and driveways in the PUD, they will require a 30-foot turn radius. Wider turn radii allow for vehicles to turn more quickly onto and off of arterials. This makes the pedestrian environment less welcoming (and less safe) since the vehicles are moving faster when they turn. So in support of creating an auto-accommodating, pedestrian- emphasized environment, this arterial standard should be modified within the PUD to have all intersections be built to the 20-foot radius residential street standard. This along with a narrower road section and 25 mph speed limit will allow the required vehicle connection, but maintain the pedestrian-oriented feel desired by the developer and area residents. City staff allow for variances and deviations from the standards, they just need to be submitted in writing and approved by the City Engineer. (Page 14, recommendation 24d)
Complete Street and Traffic Calming Needed
With or without the connection, there will be an increase of traffic along Crestline south of the development and area residents deserve to have a safe route between their home and Hamblen Park and Hamblen Elementary. Toward that end, the developer must be required to develop complete street features and traffic calming measures along Crestline Avenue from the south end of his development to Thurston Avenue as part of the mitigation for this development. Right now there are no pedestrian facilities on Crestline from 32nd to 37th and just sidewalks on one side between 37th and Thurston. These complete street features and traffic calming will also compliment the proposed traffic calming and street design that should be built within the proposed PUD along Crestline.
1) The Staff Report reflects the same conclusion that the Southgate Neighborhood Council had come to: that City code, Comp Plan policy, and adopted neighborhood plans all require or support the connection of Crestline to Southeast Blvd. It is good urban design and will not perpetuate the development of disconnected PUDs and subdivisions so common on the South Hill.
2) SNC believes the design of the connection should use traffic calming features and residential road design standards to create an auto-accommodating, pedestrian-emphasized streetscape and that this concept is supported by the connection’s designation as a Bikeway in the Spokane Bike Master Plan and the PUD’s CC1 zoning. This includes pursuing deviations from road width, speeds, and corner radii as well as other traffic calming features (such as on-street parking, curb bulb-outs, roundabouts, speed tables, bike lanes, etc.).
3) Regardless of whether or not a connection is ultimately required, SNC suggests the developer must install complete street features (pedestrian and bike facilities) and traffic calming measures (see above) between the southern border of the development and Thurston Street. This will mitigate the impact of increased traffic along Crestline and provide a safe street environment for area residents.
Depending on how the Hearing Examiner rules, there may be appeals to the decision. In order to have standing to appeal, you need to have submitted comments during the SEPA Public Comment Period or given testimony at the upcoming hearing. If there is an appeal, the issue will go to the Spokane City Council for a final ruling on the matter. So whatever your feelings, I encourage you to go to the hearing and provide testimony.
On Wednesday, August 22nd, the Spokane Design Review Board will hold a Collaborative Workshop to review the plans for Phase I of the renovations of the Southeast Sports Complex. The meeting is at 5:30pm in the Council Briefing Center at City Hall.
The Parks Department is acting on the Master Plan developed a couple years ago and includes new amenities like a splash pad, updated playground, and amphitheater/performance space. It will also coordinate with the improvements being installed as part of the KXLY development. There are some slight changes from the earlier plan, the softball fields have mostly been removed and the trail component is better defined.
You can read the submittal from the Parks Department and the report developed by City staff about the design here. Public comments will be taken in person at the Design Review Board meeting and can also be submitted to City staff Dean Gunderson or DRB Community Assembly Liaison Kathy Lang.
This is the Agency and Department Comment Period. There will be additional chances to comment during the public comment period, during the Hearing Examiner review of the PUD application, and at the Plan Commission and City Council when they consider the recently added Comp Plan Amendment to remove the Crestline connector from the City’s Arterial Street Map.
You can send your comments this round to Tami Palmquist at the City’s Planning Department: firstname.lastname@example.org. They need to be in by 5pm on Tuesday, July 31st.
The City of Spokane Design Review Board (DRB) will hold a Collaborative Workshop on the proposed Garden District project on Wednesday, April 25th at 5:30pm in the Council Briefing Chamber at City Hall. This is the development proposed for the Sonneland Property near 29th and Southeast Boulevard.
This meeting is open to the public and public comments will be taken by the board. You can also submit comments ahead of time to the DRB Community Assembly representative, Kathy Lang, or to City Urban Designer, Omar Akkari.
This week received notice of the proposed demolition of a single family home at 5216 S. Perry Street. Per the City’s demolition ordinances, the neighborhood council is to be notified of any pending demolition in the neighborhood and the public is given 10 calendar days to provide comments or voice concerns. In this case, comments need to be provided to email@example.com by the end of the day Sunday, January 14th.
We were given the demolition permit application from the City. The only other information I have found is from the City permitting system that describes the project as, “Full house demo including attached garage. Structure built in 1965 not in historic district. Not listed as historic property.”
The property is located just inside the City border (the City line is 53rd Ave.) and backs up against the Manito Country Club. It is zoned Single Family Residential and that is what the zoning should stay.
There are two comment periods on proposed developments closing next week. The first is an apartment complex on Palouse Hwy. just out in the County, the second is the memory care facility on Freya Street. I’ve outlined them briefly below:
Hilby Station 2 Apartments There is a SEPA Comment period open for the proposed Hilby Station Apartments that we heard about last month. This is a 32-unit apartment complex on Palouse Hwy. just south of the intersection of Freya and Palouse Hwy.
The comment period is open till Friday, October 6th and you can submit your comments to the County Planing Department by emailing Dawn Dompier at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fieldstone Memory Care Conditional Use Permit We have written before about the CUP for the proposed memory care facility at 44th and Freya. The City is now seeking agency comments on the CUP and they are due by close of business Thursday, October 5th. Submit your comments to Stephanie Bishop at email@example.com.
Last week the developers of a proposed memory care facility at Freya and 44th Avenue held a community meeting to discuss the proposed project in advance of their application for a Conditional Use Permit from the City to build the project.
The developers had previously held a community meeting in March and nothing had changed on the site plan. What had changed was they have now purchased the property from the previous owners and completed geotechnical work to assess the rock and soil content on site. Based on that report, they don’t see any issues with moving forward with the project. This site has been the subject of four different proposals for assisted living facilities over the years and combinations of economic health and geotechnical complexity have scuttled all the previous plans.
The developers mentioned that their plan right now is to just construct the main 39,000 sq.ft. facility and not build the three smaller structures on the north side of the property. They may build them eventually, but for now they can make the project pencil out without them. The other buildings would be constructed based on market need for more group family homes in the area.
As it stands, the project will contain 48 units with 60 beds in the main building. They will offer 24/7 nursing care with about 23 people on day shift for a 3 to 1 patient to staff ratio.. The three outbuildings would add an additional 18 beds to the facility.
The final building would look like other facilities managed by Fieldstone in Yakima and other places in Washington. The main building would be a one-story slab-on-grade structure with two wings. The main part of the building is two stories to accommodate an interior promenade and courtyard. The developers say their goal is to retain as much of the mature trees and natural landscape as they can between their facility and the properties to the east and to buffer the visual impact of the facility from Freya with screening trees and shrubs.
There were some questions about the final grade of the site on the north end given the significant natural slope of the property that direction. The developers said there wouldn’t need to be much fill to level the site and that the development wouldn’t impact the 44th Avenue Trail due to a 40′ buffer on the north side of the property. However, looking at the scaled overlay above, it appears the buildings may encroach on the trail more than discussed at the meeting. We are waiting for more detailed site plans that show final contours and grading on site. We would like to maintain as much of a natural buffer along the 44th Avenue Trail as possible. We will post those images when we have them.
As part of their construction the will be completing curb, sidewalk, and planting strips along their property adjacent to Freya to City standards. They also mentioned that their grading an site prep will not include any blasting of basalt rock on site.
For next steps they will be submitting a full application package to the City, there will likely be a traffic impact study and comment period on the Conditional Use Permit once the application has been accepted. We will keep you posted on opportunities to comment.
More Apartments Proposed for Land at 55th and Freya
On Wednesday night Todd Whipple from Whipple Consulting Engineers came to out monthly meeting to discuss a proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment to change the zoning of a 9 acre parcel at the corner of 55th Avenue and Freya from Residential Single Family to High Density Residential.
This parcel is owned by the Moody Bible Institute and it was part of the annexation earlier this year that included the apartments on 55th and the Regal Commons property. The property currently has a radio station on it, but it is zoned for single family homes. This change would allow them to build apartments on the property.
Moody Bible Institute wants to keep the existing buildings on the site, so of the 9 acres only about 8.5 will be available for development. The total number of apartments on site would be between 144 and 188. Mr. Whipple said that they would be market rate apartments, not subsidized. The land has not been sold yet, but Dennis Crapo and Diamond Rock construction are interested in purchasing it to build the apartments. If they were to build a single-family subdivision on the site it would have about 85 homes.
Development of the parcel would include building sidewalks and planting strips along the parcel frontage on Freya Street and 55th Avenue. They will also build 53rd Avenue on the north side of the property to connect to the partially completed 53rd Avenue to the west.
But Wait, There’s More…Apartments
In the course of the meeting Mr. Whipple mentioned that there is a 64 unit apartment complex planned on Palouse Highway just south of Freya Street. These apartments are being built in the County on land already zoned High-density residential. The developer is Lancze Douglass and there should be a public comment period coming very soon.
For the Comp Plan Amendment, Mr. Whipple says they need to supply the City with a trip generation letter (for traffic impacts), submit a non-project SEPA application (which should include a comment period), among other documents. Their deadline for submission is October 31st. SNC will let you know when these comment periods open up. If you have questions or concerns about this, I encourage you to contact our City Council members because they will be the ones to vote on the Comp Plan Amendment next year.
The developers of the Regal Commons, the former Regal Lumber Site, will be holding a traffic impact meeting on Wednesday, July 5th at 5pm at the Spokane Public Library, South Hill Branch (at 3324 S. Perry Street). This is the promised/required follow-up meeting to the initial traffic study scoping meeting held in October of last year. You can read the final study ahead of time here.
We have written before, here and here, about the Regal Commons development and the potential impacts to traffic along Regal Street. Suffice to say the neighborhood council was not convinced that the SEPA Application took into account the specific land uses proposed in Phase 1 of the Regal Commons project and in some cases seemed to underestimate the amount of traffic generated by a factor of ten.
The traffic study that will be discussed addresses some of those comments, however it will be interesting to see how they decide to code the two drive through restaurants proposed along Regal Street. Originally they had these coded as “Shopping Center” buildings, grossly underestimating the amount of traffic generated by their actual use “Fast Food Restaurant with Drive Through Window.” This new study changes the designation of the drive through restaurants to, “Fast Food W/ Drive Thru as modified by the City of Spokane.” The City of Spokane Engineering Department created a modified fast food land use category for this development that tries to establish a difference between standard fast food like Burger King, Carl’s Jr., and McDonald’s versus “fast casual” restaurants like Panera, Chipotle, and Qdoba.
Now the interesting thing about fast casual restaurants is that when they are described by the industry, the differences have to do with price, menu options, and interior aesthetics. The style of service is the same: fast, drive through service. It will be interesting to see what the trip generation numbers would be comparing the original fast food land use code with the modified one from the city.
Another interesting point is that based on public testimony from the developer at City Council only one of the proposed restaurants would be classified as fast casual by industry standards. He said one of his desired tenants is Panera Bread. The other tenant mentioned was Chik Fil A, which is not a fast casual restaurant, but a standard fast food chain. So if nothing else, the trip generation report should be edited to reflect this.
I encourage you all to come down to the meeting on July 5th, there is no indication the notice that you can give comments ahead of time or by email. Though I suspect if you sent a comment to the proponent listed and CCed our City Council representatives it would be noticed. FYI, our regular neighborhood council meeting will be taking place later that evening at 7pm at ESD 101.
Update: Written comments on this topic are due to the City by Monday, July 3rd! Send your comments to Dave Compton. In person testimony will still be taken at the hearing on Thursday, July 20th.
We’ve mentioned a couple times that there is a new 13-home subdivision going in around 46th Ave. and Freya Street called Moran South Estates. This project has cleared the agency review period and the developers will be holding a hearing on the development next month.
Southgate has received a Notice of Hearing that the hearing will be Thursday, July 20th at 9:00am in the Council Briefing Center at City Hall. This is a hearing related to a “preliminary plat” which is why this isn’t happening at a convenient location or time like a community meeting.
Southgate has twice submitted comments related to this project that discuss the need to pedestrian/bike connections to the west of the proposed cul de sac per City ordinances and Comp Plan policies. Thus far these comments have not been responded to, but perhaps some added messages from the neighbors can prompt the City to respond. You can see the entire SEPA application here.
You can submit comments prior to the hearing or provide comments in person. Submit comments to Dave Compton, firstname.lastname@example.org.