If you want to shop big, turn on HSN or head to Wal-Mart.
If you want a big shop, apparently all you need is a kitchenette and a bathroom.
That, apparently, is the problem facing Spokane Valley city officials as they have had to deal with several large shops or outbuildings in residential areas that tower over neighboring homes. One such monolith, which can be easily spotted on Progress Road south of Sprague Avenue, has sparked a slew of complaints that have gotten city code officials’ attention.
“It’s an issue that’s come up in the last year or so,” said John Hohman, community development director, at the council’s Jan. 15 study session.
The shops can currently be built up to 35 feet provided they also contain a living unit as small as 300 square feet. So there’s no restriction – and Hohman displayed the photographic evidence to prove it – on having two-story structures with three garages with doors up to 12-feet high.
“They’re inconsistent with a residential zone,” Hohman said. “The biggest problem is we don’t have anything in the code to address the issue.”
Members of the council, who by and large have always been proponents of private property rights, said there are community members who are trying to exploit loopholes in city codes in order to build the shops on vacant lots. The current rules state that shops or sheds can only be built on lots where there is already a house. Incorporating a living space, however small, gets around that rule.
“I think there’s some ways we can help people,” said Council Member Arne Woodard. “There are people who are getting around that second lot item.”
Council members said they are in favor of reducing the height limit of the shops and increasing setbacks from property lines. City staff will work on an ordinance and bring it back to the council for review.