State seeking review of Spokane Urban Growth Areas expansion

Gov. Inslee authorizes agencies to petition Growth Management Hearings Board for compliance review of new boundaries

OLYMPIA, WA – The Washington State Departments of Commerce and Transportation today received authorization from Gov. Jay Inslee to appeal a recent expansion of the Spokane Urban Growth Area (UGA) enacted by Spokane County on July 18, 2013.

Governor Inslee instructed Commerce Director Brian Bonlender and Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson to file a Petition for Review with the Growth Management Hearings Board. In his memo, the Governor also directed the agencies to work directly with Spokane County to resolve the issues. Commerce is the lead state agency for the state Growth Management Act (GMA).

The state’s concerns with the UGA expansion include encroachment and negative impact on the future of Fairchild Air Force Base (FAFB), significant costs to taxpayers for infrastructure and property acquisitions, and unmitigated impacts on the state highway system. CommerceWSDOT and the City of Spokane raised these issues during the public input process.

“Earlier this year, because of my concern with issues of encroachment on FAFB, I worked with the Legislature to provide $2.7 million in state funds to purchase another parcel of land that had been identified as housing encroachment. Yet the county’s expansion of the UGA will encourage more development that encroaches on the base. The county’s recent action not only undermines state efforts to remove encroachment, it is contradictory to the county’s efforts to do the very same thing,” Inslee wrote in his letter to Spokane County Commissioners. “While the effects of the county’s UGA expansion on FAFB are my greatest concern, the state has several other concerns with the recent UGA expansion. We believe your recent actions will impose unnecessary and burdensome infrastructure cost on the Spokane County taxpayers and have unmitigated impacts on the state highway system.”

Gov. Inslee requested that the county stop accepting applications for new development, pending resolution of all current and past appeals by the Hearings Board and the courts. He is hopeful that the county will respond soon and express willingness to resolve this in a manner that protects the vitality of Spokane County and the integrity of the GMA.

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