Douglass Development Proposal Now In Growth Board’s Hands

Apr 9, 2015

The state appeals court ruled Thursday on a development issue between county commissioners and a rural Spokane neighborhood. Part of an ongoing court-battle, this opinion sides mostly with the Growth Management Hearings Board, not the commissioners.

This map from the appeals court ruling shows the "property's irregular contour, with the property lying within the bold border." The property abuts Waikiki Road and North Five Mile Road.
Credit Washington State Court of Appeals / http://www.courts.wa.gov/opinions/pdf/319415.unp.pdf

The case is complicated, starting with county commissioners backing a plan by Harley C. Douglass Inc. to build apartments near the Spokane Country Club. But neighbors and Futurewise say rezoning it from low-density to medium-density residential violates zoning codes.

The Growth Management Hearings Board agreed the proposal was problematic, then a trial court reversed that.

The appeals court has sided with the growth board that no environmental conditions warrant re-zoning, and that the area isn’t public or commercial enough for high density living. These points are in adherence to the Growth Management Act and Spokane County zoning code.

Tim Trohimovich at Futurewise says they see it as a win.

Trohimovich: “Putting high density development on the edge of the urban growth area, in an area where there aren’t the facilities to support it, just doesn’t make sense. There are better places for that kind of development and Spokane is definitely one of them.”

Futurewise is also concerned about who would supply and fund services to these new apartments. For the current single family homes, Spokane County provides sewer and Whitworth Water District supplies water.

The court also disagreed with the growth board on two points, but in the end gives the board power to invalidate the development plans. They were proposed in the county’s comprehensive plan. Douglass Inc. or the county commission can appeal the latest ruling to the state supreme court.

Requests for comment from Harley Douglass and Commissioner Al French were not returned by air time. 

The Growth Management Hearings Board has eight total cases open regarding Spokane County, searchable through their database: http://www.gmhb.wa.gov/CaseSearch.aspx.

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