The Spokane Valley City Council didn’t waver Tuesday on the existing municipal mining ban.
Despite concerns that the ban could impede existing operations or stall permits for expanded uses not directly related to current gravel pit operations, council members unanimously reiterated the need for the ban as the city updates its state-mandated comprehensive land-use plan. In a 6-0 vote – Council Member Bill Bates has been absent the past several meetings for health reasons – the council approved findings-of-fact for the mining ban.
Mayor Dean Grafos said the city has outgrown its rural roots that gave rise to many industrial operations that aren’t commonly seen in urban areas. Land that has been dug up for gravel pits – primarily by Central Pre-Mix and Spokane County – equals about “one square mile,” he said.
Erik Lamb, deputy city attorney, said the intention of the moratorium is not to disrupt current operations at the gravel pit sites.
He conceded, however, that there could be “unintended consequences” if the city is requested to approve a permit that could be perceived as an expansion and counter to the intent of the moratorium.
Spokane County has protested the ban, saying it will stall a planned gravel pit near Tschirley Road east of Sullivan Road and north of the Spokane River.
“The Tschirley site doesn’t have any use at this time,” Lamb said. “So that site could be affected.”
Stacy Bjordahl, an attorney representing Central Pre-Mix, said that she has been working with Spokane Valley’s legal team and is uncertain that current operations will remain unaffected by the moratorium.
“I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree,” she said. “We’ll have to trust the city will follow through when we come in with permits that we won’t be met with resistance.”
In other news, the council:
- reached a 3-3 tie, thus failing to reach a majority, in a privately initiated comprehensive plan amendment that would have allowed for a storage-unit facility to be constructed on property on the northwest corner of Flora Road and Mission Avenue adjacent to single family homes. A yes vote from Council Member Bates, had he been present, would have swung the vote in the proponents’ favor.
- Agreed unanimously to new beekeeping rules that will allow one beehive for per 4,356 square feet of lot area. Hives will have to be kept out of front yards and a 6-foot barrier must be erected to keep bees from bothering neighbors. A water supply will also have to be provided to keep the insects out of nearby birdbaths or pools.