A longtime SARP critic will now get his chance at crafting new zoning rules – along with a host of other responsibilities – as the newest member of the Spokane Valley Planning Commission.
Steven Neill – a 47-year-old distribution specialist for OfficeMax who once compared the Sprague-Appleway Revitalization Plan to a multi-headed hydra that needed to be slain – got the unanimous vote of approval from the City Council on Tuesday after being nominated by Mayor Tom Towey.
“I was very, very encouraged by the quality of people who applied,” Towey said. “It’s not an easy decision, and not one I take lightly. I hope the council doesn’t take it lightly.”
Neill will fill a vacancy on the commission that was created when former Commissioner Arne Woodard was picked to fill former Council Member Rose Dempsey’s spot on the council.
Neill had been a contender for another vacant seat on the council – that of the late Bob McCaslin’s – but dropped out of the running in order to seek the Planning Commission job. Neill said he wanted some experience as a planning commissioner first before seeking a council post.
Neill was picked over five other applicants: John R. Baldwin, Gordon W. Curry, Bill Stallcop, George Phillip Watson and Jennie L. Willardson.
Neill will fill the remainder of Woodard’s term on the Planning Commission, which expires in December.
Planning Commission members are responsible for reviewing and making recommendations on proposed development, land use, annual reviews of the comprehensive plan, development regulations and more. The commission generally meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of the month at City Hall.
Neill is a graduate of Liberty High School in Spangle and attended Spokane Community College and graduated from Whitworth University with a degree in organizational management. A regular-attendee of City Council meetings during the contentious SARP adoption process, Neill stated on his application that the city needs a more common-sense approach to development regulations.
“I have a great passion for creating a manufacturing-friendly city as well as protecting property rights of citizens,” Neill wrote on his application. “I have sound knowledge of the issues facing this city with the experience, education and ability to understand complex issues.”