Staff Reporter 

ML turns down new proposal

Talks will continue with Spokane County over Joint Land Use Study


Discussions regarding Spokane County’s Joint Land Use Study continue in Medical Lake, which remains the only jurisdiction that hasn’t approved the document.

Medical Lake sent Spokane County a memorandum of understanding with certain provisions the city believed were necessary to begin discussions on JLUS. City Administrator Doug Ross said the county had the document for almost a month before it sent a response back with around half of what Medical Lake originally put in.

Last week, the Medcial Lake City Council voted to not approve the MOU, leaving room for future discussions with the county.

JLUS sets up land-use regulations within cities surrounding Fairchild Air Force Base, based on sound contours and distance to the runway. Medical Lake would be affected by two of the three Military Influence Areas: MIA Two and MIA Three-Four.

“It had about 50 percent of what you asked for,” Ross told the council.

In MIA Three-Four, which encompasses Medical Lake’s northern urban growth area in the other versions, the county agreed to move the line north so it wouldn’t affect the land. That would allow the city to develop residential plots in the UGA as it originally intended.

Medical Lake’s original MOU also included the notion that current residents should be exempt from any of the JLUS requirements, like having Spokane County and Fairchild sign off on any land use activities. The county didn’t change that part of the document.

“We’ve all coexisted since 1950, I believe,” Ross said.

That said, the versions differed enough for the City Council to hold back on any approval.

“The MOU that Spokane County has presented to you is not the MOU you directed staff to prepare,” Ross said.

Also included in the document sent back to Medical Lake was the requirement that the city not attempt to annex its growth area until an MOU was accepted. Last year, the Spokane County Growth Steering Committee voted to remove Medical Lake’s UGA since it didn’t comply with JLUS sound contours.

“It seems like they’re basically saying you can have this UGA area, but don’t think you can annex it; you have no access to it, it’s just going to be there,” Councilwoman Brenda Redell said.

The news regarding the UGA proved to be of interest to the council.

“They will leave that alone if you agree to play ball with JLUS,” Ross said.

The document incorporates development regulations from Spokane County as well as the requirements from JLUS. Those regulations include informing the county of home sales, or land action that takes place on the property.

“We haven’t done that for 50 years. That was one thing that, when we discussed earlier, you felt a citizen shouldn’t have to undertake,” Ross said.

The county essentially wiggled its exceptions on MIA Three-Four, but was firm on MIA Two.

“I personally don’t see a problem with having to go to them with any kind of land-use thing, but that’s me,” Councilwoman Laura Parsons said.

Original wording in the development regulations included informing the county of details like landscaping changes or other actions taken on property.

“The problem is that you own the property, but you’re asking Fairchild for permission to make improvements on your own property,” Councilman Jeff King said. “I don’t see how somebody putting a retaining wall on their property would change the use of Fairchild, but they would have the right to tell you that you could not do that on your own property.”

Parsons and King continued the discussion from there.

“But what’s the likelihood of them (Fairchild or Spokane County) doing that,” Parsons asked.

“Once you say yes, then there’s no way to go back on that,” King said.

James Eik can be reached at


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