Tag Archives: land use

Last Chance to Comment on KXLY Development

The public comment period for the KXLY Development SEPA Application ends tomorrow, June 19th, at 5:00pm. This comment period snuck up on us since there was no notification made directly to the neighborhood via mail or to the broader public via a posted sign on the property. There was apparently a notice placed in the Spokesman Review for those that read the public notice pages.

Regardless of the lack of notification, you still have a chance to have your opinions on this project heard. We have collected all the development materials on one page for your to review. SNC also submitted comments during the agency review period that you can review as well.

Some of the main topics of concern from our comments that remain to be fully answered is the true measure of traffic impacts from this development. Aside from specifically calling out the future grocery store, the developers use the more broad development category “Shopping Center” to measure their traffic impact, but we know that there are other high impact traffic generators included in the plan such as a drive-through restaurant. This would increase their traffic impact and as a result their mitigation fee to the City.

One other area of remaining concern are the developer’s plans to manage stormwater on their site. Preliminary plans show them retaining the water in a large pond under the radio tower to the west of the development. There have been concerns about groundwater saturation from neighbors upstream of the KXLY site who already experience high water tables and occasional flooding in their neighborhoods. How will the City and developer certify that paving 80% of the project site will still allow for proper infiltration and movement of storm water for these existing residents?

Whatever your views and concerns are, I encourage you to send an email to John Halsey, jhalsey@spokanecity.org, prior to the closing of the comment period tomorrow evening.

Resurrection of the Ray Street Crossover

The City is currently updating the Comprehensive Plan through process they are calling Shaping Spokane. Chapter 4 of that update is the transportation chapter. When it was released in late February, we noticed that a particular project had re-appeared in a couple of places: The Ray Street Crossover

The latest proposed design for the Ray Street Crossover.

The crossover is a primarily auto-oriented route next to the campus of Ferris High School to speed access of vehicles from Ray Street to Freya Street and out to the Moran Prairie area.  The crossover is shown on the arterial network on the draft Arterial Plan Map (Map TR12). This project has also been added to the 2017 DRAFT Capacity Improvement Project List referenced in Chapter 4 and found in Appendix D of Volume V (pg.41) of the new Comp Plan.

The city is resurrecting this project as a way to reduce perceived vehicular congestion on Regal Street and funnel more traffic over to our neighborhood’s designated Major Arterial, Freya Street. The crossover concept isn’t new. It was last floated back in the early 2000s (and even earlier than that), but was abandoned during the Neighborhood Planning process that took place from 2007 to 2010 because data from the City could not show how this proposed crossover would improve level of service better than signalization improvements to the intersections of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya.  For this reason, and with the concurrence of the then-current Senior Traffic Planning engineer, the city-adopted Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan does not include the Ray Street Crossover (see image below).

The neighborhood arterial map from the Southgate Connectivity Plan showing no crossover, but instead suggests intersection improvements only.

Rather, the Neighborhood Plan suggests signalization improvements at the intersections of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya to better manage the flow of vehicular traffic.  This alternative reduces impacts on Ferris, on Hazel’s Creek and is undoubtedly less costly. The table below is taken from the 2017 Draft CIP List and shows the two signalized intersections are estimated to cost $500,000 where the crossover would cost $4,056,000 and still require a signal and intersection improvements at adjacent intersections.

In addition to putting back in the Comp Plan, the City recently submitted a Roadway Capacity Justification (RCJ) report to the Spokane Regional Transportation Council (SRTC) in an attempt to justify the development of the Ray Street Crossover. The RCJ report ignores the Neighborhood Plan’s recommendations, that is the signal improvements at 37th/Ray and 37th/Freya, and instead just models traffic impacts with and without the crossover.

City staff have told neighborhood representatives that they have the ability to run the transportation model in-house. We requested that this model be run and the RCJ report adjusted to reflect the neighborhood’s preferred solution. The aforementioned 2017 Draft CIP List does include signalization of 37th and Ray and 37th and Freya as projects in the South region (see below).

Until this occurs, the Southgate Neighborhood requested to the Plan Commission and City Council that the proposed crossover be removed from the Arterial Map and 2017 Draft Capacity Improvement Project list until such time as sufficient studies have been done to address the improvements desired in the neighborhood plan.  This removal would support proposed TR Goal E of the updated Comprehensive Plan, “evaluate transportation projects using objective criteria to reflect community standards and desires.” (Comp Plan, 2017, pg. 4-15)

South Hill Traffic Management: Assessing the Bigger Picture

In the larger picture, the RCJ report and portions of the draft Comprehensive Plan highlight the need for a more comprehensive assessment of traffic issues on the South Hill.  The Southgate Neighborhood and South Hill Coalition have requested a that holistic Traffic Management Study and Plan be developed for the entire South Hill.  This plan could assess and provide a context for any and all arterial designations and additions on the South Hill suggested in the new Comp Plan and CIP list:

  • The Ray Street Crossover,
  • the completion of 44th between Regal Street and Crestline Street,
  • and addition of a proposed minor collector between Southeast Boulevard and Crestline Street.

It would help determine how these individual projects and designations align or do not align with the goals of the Southgate and South Hill Coalition Neighborhood Plans. It would help these or any other projects support the existing and proposed Comprehensive Plan’s call for a “Balanced Transportation Approach” that seeks to first accommodate the pedestrian and maintain or enhance the character of neighborhoods and livability for neighborhood residents.

There will be additional hearings on the Comp Plan update at City Council in the next couple of months, so the public will have a chance to comment on this proposal again. We will also keep you updated if the City provides models for the intersections improvements called for in our neighborhood plan. Our Comp Plan and Municipal Code call for balanced, multi-modal translation development in our City, this proposal is geared primarily towards auto-users and a less dramatic, fiscally reduced solution should be considered before putting this into the Comp Plan for the next 20 years.

Another Notice of Community Meeting for Freya Assisted Living Project

Southgate has received a notice that another group is proposing to develop an assisted living facility at 44th Avenue and Freya and the developer will be holding a Community Meeting on Tuesday, April 11th at 5:30pm at the Southside Community Center.

This new project is being called Fieldstone Memory Care and the site plan shared with the City at a pre-development meeting in December shows a 39,000 sq.ft. single story building with three smaller 5300 sq.ft. bungalows being built along the 44th Avenue trail on the north side of the property.

Pre-development notes from the City show the development will include 60 beds (a decrease from previous proposals). They City also indicates that they want the developers do construct full right-of-way improvements including curb, sidewalk, and pedestrian buffers along Freya. They are also encouraging the project to connect to the 44th Avenue Trail as an amenity for their residents.

This site is currently zoned as single-family residential, but it did have a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) granted in 2008 allowing development of assisted care facilities. That original CUP expired, so these developers would have to re-apply for a new Conditional Use Permit. As with previous proposals for this site, there will have to be extensive geotechnical and grading work done to make the site useable as indicated in the site plan.

KXLY Design and Environmental Review

The KXLY Development in the Southgate District Center has two different review deadlines coming up this week.

On Wednesday, March 22nd the City’s Design Review Board will hold a “recommendation meeting” of the project at 5:30pm at City Hall where the developers will present their responses to the initial design review back in February. You can see the updated design here (warning: large 150MB file). The biggest changes are enhanced pedestrian connections between the development and the park, inclusion of infrastructure for STA’s new High Performance Transit stops along Regal, addition of a mid-block pedestrian crossing on Regal between the new development and the Target site, and better screening of the south side of the proposed grocery store. Feel free to take a look and send your comments in to Julie Neff at the City Planing Department.

On Thursday, March 23rd the agency comment period for the KXLY project SEPA Application closes. The SEPA Application is where we can comment on issues like traffic impacts and stormwater management. The SEPA Application references a Traffic Operation Study submitted to the City in December that covers trip generation and Level of Service (LOS) for roads around Southgate before and after the project. The traffic study says the project will add 12,625 ADT to Regal Street bringing the total trips on that section of Regal up to 28,525 ADT when added together with existing trips from the City of Spokane Traffic Volume Map. That total doesn’t include trips generated by the new Maverik gas station or the proposed Regal Commons project. The SEPA application also covers potential stormwater impacts, so you can review that information as well. You can submit your comments on this SEPA Application to John Halsey at the City of Spokane Planning Department.

This SEPA comment period is the agency comment period for this project. There will be another public comment period after the developer responds to the agency comments. Recent updates to the Spokane Municipal Code for neighborhood notification means that neighborhoods now get notified during the agency comment period instead of having to wait for the public comment period, but you can comment in both.

Things are moving fast with the weather improving. Make yourself heard before it’s too late.

SEPA Comment Period for Moran Estates South

Southgate received a notice yesterday about a SEPA comment period for a proposed 13-home subdivision along Freya Street called Moran South Estates. You’ll remember this project held a Community Meeting back in August.

You can take a look at the preliminary-site-plan and SEPA Checklist for the project and send comments to the City’s SEPA coordinator, Dave Compton, through November 22nd.

Moran

The project is very similar to the developments on 45th Court and 47th Avenue directly to the north and south of this area. A couple comments related to pedestrian accommodation that I would supply would be to ask if the right-of-way improvements along Freya Street will be completed per Spokane Municipal Code. As you can see, the sidewalk ends as the cul de sac goes out to Freya. Anyone living on the east side of Southgate knows how unaccommodating Freya is to pedestrians and bikes. If we don’t ask developers to fill in the sidewalk between 44th and Palouse Hwy it will never be built.

mse_pedestrian_connections-002
Possible pedestrian connections for safer/easier resident access to Southgate’s District Center

Another pedestrian accommodation (supported by the SMC, the City Comp Plan, and our Southgate Neighborhood Connectivity Plan) would be to add some non-motorized connection to the west. A mixed-use Centennial/Ben Burr style trail punching out at the end of the cul de sac or out of the southwest corner of the development across a County-owned stormwater swale would allow residents easier and safer access to the shopping area of our neighborhood’s District Center via Palouse Hwy. It would take some discussion between the developers and the owners of Clare House or the County, but it would be a great amenity and help prevent the continuation of the pervasive lack of east/west connectivity in our neighborhood. Without this type of connection residents would have to walk a 1/3 mile south or 1/4 north to find a route towards the District Center.

The SNC Land Use Committee will draft and submit comments as well, we will upload those here when we have them drafted. In the meantime, please send in your comments so the City knows what you think.

Cool Beans Espresso Stand Relocating

Java junkies take heart! Cool Beans Espresso Stand is relocating ahead of the construction of the Maverik gas station at 44th and Regal. Back in July the stand was served with an eviction notice ahead of the gas station construction.

These are the approved plans for the new Cool Beans espresso stand location at the southwest corner of 44th and Regal.
These are the approved plans for the new Cool Beans espresso stand location at the southwest corner of 44th and Regal.

Building permits issued by the City last month show that Mr. Douglass is moving the stand across the intersection of 44th and Reagl to the northeast corner of the parking lot of the Ace Hardware shopping center where the Spokane Boys fruit and Christmas tree lots are located seasonally.

Mr. Douglass owns both the Ace shopping center and the open land at 44th and Regal where the gas station will be built. None of the submitted documents include a timeline for the building of either the espresso stand or the gas station. We will update you when we hear more.

KXLY Development Concept Plan

At our last Southgate Neighborhood Council meeting the developers of the KXLY property presented a concept site plan highlighting their project’s connection to the Southeast Sports Complex and its enactment of the intent of the Center and Corridor zoning and Integrated Site Plan.

We’ve uploaded the full presentation here for people to look and review. Keep in mind a couple things: 1)These are just draft concepts and there have been no building permits applied for at this time. 2) The developer has not mentioned or listed any tenants of the buildings at this time. So any mention of a company or store is just illustrative.

You can catch a news story about this on KXLY News tonight at 5pm and 6pm.

Lastly, please make sure to comment on the proposed Comprehensive Plan Amendment for the small city-owned parcel between the park and KXLY’s property. Comments are due July 11th and you can see more information about the proposal on the City’s Planning Department website. The comments period is just about the zoning change and purchase of the small city-owned parcel, not the development as a whole. The full development will get its own design review and comment period when the developers submit building permits. This proposal is the first domino that as to fall before any major development actions take place.

 

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.

KM_C554e-20160429100423
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.

Outcome: Spokane Housing Ventures Annexation

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.