The theme of the Airway Heights Planning Commission’s Monday, Oct. 8 meeting was a 20-year outlook.
The commission looked at chapter three of its comprehensive plan, which factors in community issues, visions and goals. Having been static since 2006, the chapter received some proposed updates to modernize the vision of Airway Heights for the next two decades.
An extensive discussion took place regarding the issues likely facing the city during that timeframe.
One of the issues facing the city’s planning involves a lack of diverse housing options available for residents. City planner Derrick Braaten said cluster housing could be a possible alternative for the future of Airway Heights.
Also in the chapter is a section on transportation, which includes mentions of improving safety on Highway 2. The commission suggested adding Hayford Road to the list, due to increased traffic since 2006, including one fatality last year. Crosswalk striping and a suggested speed of 35 mph have been part of upgrades to the road in an effort to improve safety, Braaten said.
Pedestrian safety along Highway 2 remains a high priority in the document, partly since funding for projects can be more easily obtained and higher speeds cause more traffic fatalities. Commissioner Laura Brown said sidewalks in residential areas away from the highway could use improvement.
“They are both important, but when you have limited funds you have to have priorities,” Braaten said. “Unfortunately, we can’t necessarily do both.”
The planning commission also said the routes with STA could use improvement, particularly in terms of connections with other West Plains cities. Currently, riders must go into Spokane in order to reach Cheney or Medical Lake.
“There are people who live out here, who go to school out (in Cheney),” Brown said. “It’s just ridiculous.”
Brown and others on the commission said the city’s Parks and Recreation Department had done exemplary work over the past few years in offering a wide variety of programs to residents.
With regard to economic development, much from the 2006 version was left unchanged. The city still seeks to provide better opportunity and high quality jobs for residents. Braaten also said the city has a somewhat narrow tax base, and could diversify it through future growth.
The Planning Commission passed an action item that set up email communication, contingent on the email addresses being on the city’s account.
Printed items will still be available at commission meetings for members of the public. Some savings would result from a change to email, largely coming from printing costs and postage.
During his report, Braaten said discussions regarding Spokane County’s Joint Land Use Study were moving along, and the commission may see some proposals at the beginning of next year. In addition, the south side housing project was moving forward, although in a somewhat quieter fashion as funds are gathered to help fund construction efforts. Thus far, 12 residents in the area approaching Fairchild Air Force Base have taken advantage of the program.
“This is probably still about a three-year project,” Braaten said.
One position still remains open on the Planning Commission. Those interested can contact the Planning Department at 509-244-2552 for more information.
James Eik can be reached at email@example.com.