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What's going on in Spokane County.

Family Photo on Greenbluff


Protecting Green Bluff and Small Tract Agricultural lands in Spokane County.


Spokane County is considering opening up Small Tract Agriculture to a broad range of commercial uses including wedding venues and event facilities. While some of this has been going on for years, a whole lot of it could be going on in the future. If you have ever visited Greenbluff you may be wondering how the existing farms you know and love will be impacted by the increased intense waves of traffic caused by large events and weddings. Our farmer allies there are also concerned.

In February we attended a hearing on this issue and urged the county to come up with zoning that protects and supports small farms, instead of zoning that creates conflicts. Green Bluff is a community asset and it also is some of the best farmland to be found anywhere. Our small tract agricultural lands should be protected for farming, not for land speculators and people who want to profit from the quaint ambiance provided by neighboring farms without protecting the farmers. Read our most recent comment letter here.

Spokesman Review coverage here.



Ongoing: Spokane County moves forward with vast urban growth expansion that will cost taxpayers money and damage our rural character.


First the good news: Futurewise members and neighborhood groups did a great job spreading the word, sending letters to our commissioners and attending hearings asking them to save taxpayers money and protect rural character by voting not to expand the urban growth area.

You helped make this issue newsworthy and important to local leaders. The City of Spokane--especially Councilmembers Waldref, Snyder and Stuckart and Mayor Condon, stood up for good planning and infill in their letter to the county and opposed unnecessary expansion. The local papers and blogs did a great job covering the issue and the Spokesman Review’s Editorial Board even weighed in against unnecessary expansion.


Now for the bad news: Nearly 7,000 acres will be added by resolution to the Spokane County Urban Growth Area this week affecting areas in Mead, Mount Spokane, North Spokane, Southeast Spokane Valley, West Valley, Dishman Hills, Glenrose Prairie, Moran Prairie, Palisades, Havana Lyons, Bigelow Gulch, the Geiger Spur.

How did this happen?!

I have a friend that likes to say "If you torture the numbers long enough, they'll tell you anything". From the looks of the County's own EIS the cost of these expansions could be about a billion dollars over the next twenty years. The county has disputed that number, but has not provided more information to make the estimate more complete.

Whatever the numbers, everyone from the Washington State Department of Commerce to the Spokesman Review seemed to agree that our urban growth area is already larger than it needs to be and to grow more would add more cost than benefit. Well, everyone except land speculators and the Spokane County Commission who voted unanimously to make the expansions. One took issue with the City of Spokane and other opponents claiming "no growth is not good planning" seeming to miss the point that community members were asking the county to grow up through infill, not out through sprawl.

Futurewise is working with our allies and board to determine next steps on this issue.

What's next?

In the meantime the County is also working on its Capital Facilities Plan which is the document that is supposed to describe how the county intends to build, operate and maintain its infrastructure and urban services--including in the expanded areas. One major problem--no revenue projections.

Last week Futurewise asked the county to correct this. In the light of this large expansion, it is especially critical that we identify how we are going to pay for our already crumbling infrastructure and afford new growth in places without existing infrastructure.

Want more details on the urban Growth Area and Capital Facilities Plans? Check out our most recent comment letters here.

Urban Growth Area

Capital Facilities Plan

We have commented Nine times on the Urban Growth Area, if you would like to see previous or related comment letters email kitty@futurewise.org.


Background:


We’ve been very supportive of recent actions by the County Commissioners efforts to work together with cities and make progress toward more responsible development. The proposal up for consideration now will be a major step backwards.

Unnecessarily expanding our urban areas will affect us all – whether we live in a city or in the rural area.  Sprawl encroaches on farmland, forestland and rural character, and makes it more challenging for cities like Spokane or Spokane Valley to promote the kind of infill development that creates economic prosperity and stability for taxpayers.

Click here to see a map compiled with the county's own data vacant land already inside the urban growth area--not including vacant buildings.


Click here to review the memo from the county's own experts that finds we have a surplus of buildable land in our Urban Growth Area.







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Volunteer!

Shape your community’s future and build your resume by working on city/regional planning issues! Contact kitty@futurewise.org for volunteer opportunities.



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