The city of Spokane Valley is taking steps to streamline potential development activity in its northeast industrial area, which had been identified as a community priority in the 2017-2037 comprehensive plan and final environmental impact statement.
Last December, the city of Spokane Valley was awarded a $114,200 grant from the Washington state Department of Commerce to streamline the process for environmental permitting in the city’s 840-acre northeast industrial area.
Chaz Bates, economic development specialist with the city of Spokane Valley, says that grant funded an environmental analysis of the area, which will identify the impacts and necessary mitigation for foreseeable industrial developments in the area, including a phased infrastructure plan for adding transportation and utilities.
“Generally, this serves as a kind of environmental analysis for project level development,” says Bates. “The analysis will identify mitigations not already covered by existing regulations and help us plan to accommodate further growth.”
He says the strategies identified in the study will be embedded into an ordinance format, known as a planned action ordinance or PAO. The ordinance is meant to help protect the environment, while also serving as a development guide to help sustain the quality of future expansions in the area.
The PAO would apply to an area bounded by Flora Road on the west, Trent Avenue on the north, the Union Pacific rail line on the south, and the city limits on the east. Some of the area, totaling about 277 acres, is developed already, leaving the remaining 563 acres yet to be developed.
“This area has been designated as prime for industrial properties, but it’s missing several important infrastructure elements like sewer and transportation,” Bates says. “This initial study looks at the environmental aspects of adding those things, particularly transportation.”
While the ordinance is still in draft form, he says that if it’s adopted, it could make the permitting process easier for potential developers who are interested in the area.
“Development includes a lot of permitting processes, including environmental analysis,” he says. “When we’re able to analyze that impact ahead of time, then that can save developers a step or two, as they’d be able to use our study as a tool within development applications.”
Proposal documents indicate the city anticipates the type of projects likely to take place in the area would be new or expanded heavy- and light-industrial uses.
Although just how much new industrial development the city expects is unknown at this time, Bates says an upcoming supplemental environmental impact statement due in June could reveal more.
“We’re expecting to have a draft ready, following the SEIS in June,” he says. “After that, we would start the adoption process, which may not be final until October.”
In December, The Journal had reported that a 40-acre site within the industrial area was being considered by a heavy manufacturer of transportation equipment for a new production plant facility.
It was estimated the facility would include 110,000 square feet of production space, 115,000 square feet of storage space, a new rail spur, and parking to accommodate business operations.
At that time, John Hohman, community development director for the city of Spokane Valley, had said a local recruitment team was actively pursuing the manufacturer, although city officials had agreed not to disclose the manufacturer’s identity.
Bates says it’s possible the site is still being considered by that developer, but no new or additional information concerning that project is available at this time.
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