Seats were again scarce at Tuesday night’s Spokane Valley City Council meeting. But after a quick decision to postpone any decisions on a potential rezone near St. John Vianney Parish, the room cleared quickly.
The council granted city staff an additional 60 days to work through a developer’s agreement submitted by Catholic Charities and schedule a public hearing on the project, which could allow a 40-unit low-income apartment complex for senior citizens in the 500 block of North Walnut.
The agreement could mitigate negative impacts feared by some neighborhood residents, such as building height or number of parking spaces.
An original 30-day postponement of the action – which would amend the city’s comprehensive plan -- was granted last month after over an hour of testimony was taken. Since then, a neighborhood representative has dropped out of negotiations with city staff and Catholic Charities.
On Tuesday, only one person who lives in the neighborhood spoke against the project and said there is no need to delay the decision much longer.
“We want a resolution to this issue,” said Leland Bieber, who lives nearby on Farr Road.
He added that he believed the city was trying to use the time to “alter laws” on what was allowed to be built on the parcel.
“There’s a pungent odor coming from this,” he said.
Karen Kendall, assistant planner for the city, explained that a draft agreement had already been reached during the first 30-day period of negotiations, but staff members needed to now review that work and schedule a public hearing before the council could make its decision. She added it was unlikely that the full 60 days would be necessary.
“It’s a time from that we can start with,” she said.
Mayor Tom Towey asked if the council, once the issue was before members again, could make their own stipulations.
“Certainly,” Kendall said.
The council approved the motion 7-0. It was the first official action of newest Council Member Chuck Hafner.
In March, the Spokane Valley Planning Commission voted 4-2 for the zone change to be denied.