The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group believes Spokane County is acting contrary to the law in respect to applications being processed in regards to the Proposed Sundance Meadows development off the northwest corner of Spokane. The Growth Management Act is clear on the issue of consistency between county Comprehensive Plans and the plans of cities within those counties. As citizens, we are expected to obey the law and not simply ignore the law if it strikes us as inconvenient. We expect our elected officials to be doubly adherent to the law and not act in violation of the law simply because they feel they can and that the only impediment to that is if citizens seek accountability in the courts, which they seem to bank on not happening due to the expense and time required.
We ask that you read our position and then take action by contacting your elected officials. Their contact information is below.
Spokane County Hearings Examiner Ignores Central Issue Re Sundance Meadows Development
Sundance Meadows, LLC of Otis Orchards seeks to develop a former 18-hole golf course into a large, 475-unit single-family-residence development in the Seven Mile Urban Growth Joint Planning Area adjacent to the City of Spokane's northwest extent. "Joint Planning Area" means an area where both the City of Spokane and Spokane County have equal jurisdiction over planning issues.
It is the position of the Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group that Spokane County is in violation of the Growth Management Act (GMA) by continuing to process the preliminary plat application and related permit applications submitted by Sundance Meadows, LLC in furtherance of the developer's project because the property is designated in the Comprehensive Plan of the City of Spokane as "Open Space" and as such it is not eligible for conversion to a housing development.
The Growth Management Act specifically states (RCW 36.70A.100), "the comprehensive plan of each county or city that is adopted pursuant to RCW 36.70A.040 [the GMA] shall be coordinated with, and consistent with, the comprehensive plans adopted pursuant to RCW 36.70A.040 of other counties or cities with which the county or city has, in part, common borders or related regional issues."
At this time, the comprehensive plans of the City of Spokane and Spokane County are not consistent with each other because the County's comprehensive plan designates the property as "Low-density Residential" while the City designates it as "Open Space."
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group also is of the opinion that the City of Spokane has been derelict in its duty to defend the interests of its residents by not strenuously objecting to the preliminary plat application on the grounds that the proposed development is not appropriate for a property in the Joint Planning Area that the City has designated as "Open Space" and which was so designated as the result of a legally binding process that included public participation.
The Growth Management Steering Committee is an interlocal entity made up of elected officials and responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Growth Management Act for the entire Spokane region. The Steering Committee is intended to serve as a regional forum for urban growth issues and growth management planning including overseeing joint planning within UGAs. It’s supposed to meet on the 3rd Wednesday of every month but it hasn't met once since October 2020. Meanwhile, development planning for the 88 acres of Open Space in Seven Mile forges ahead illegally and developers eye our remaining arable lands, so easy to build on, with greedy anticipation. They can see that our local governments are willing to ignore the law in order to accommodate their voracious appetite for building sites.
Local government is supposed to act lawfully and protect residents' environment and quaility of life, but when it comes to overseeing responsible growth, it's obvious both the City and the County are failing to do those things.
Spokane County should suspend all proceedings related to applications and permits pertaining to the proposed development until the required public process for bringing the respective comprehensive plans into compliance with each other has been initiated and completed.
Please contact Martha Thornton, Clerk for the Growth Management Steering Committee at (509) 477-7155 or email@example.com and ask her when the Steering Committee plans to take up the issue of resolving the inconsistency between the City and County Comprehensive Plans.
The Spokane Farmland Preservation Working Group would favor an outcome of such a process that would designate the property as "Open Space" in both City and County comprehensive plans. Furthermore, the Working Group would also favor the property, which is completely comprised of "Prime" agricultural soils as determined by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resources Conservation Service and includes a well with the capacity to irrigate the entire property, be utilized for an urban farm and any water rights that had been in place that allowed the former golf course to be irrigated and are currently in trust, be reinstated to facilitate the irrigation of crops.
In addition, please contact the Spokane County Commissioners, your Spokane City Council members and Spokane City Council President Breean Beggs, City and County Planning Directors, and the City and County Legal Departments, in addition to your elected officials and demand that all proceedings related to applications and permits pertaining to the proposed Sundance Meadows development be suspended until the required public process for bringing the respective comprehensive plans into compliance with each other has been initiated and completed.
Spokane County Commissioners:
County Commissioner, District 1
County Commissioner, District 2
County Commissioner, District 3
Spokane City Council:
City Council President