Taking a slow and steady approach to final approval of chapter three in Airway Heights’ comprehensive plan, the city’s planning commission gave verbal approval of the latest draft.
A public hearing will take place regarding the chapter in June, after which it will pass to the City Council for its approval. At its Monday, April 8 meeting,
The commission previously approved two of the sections in the chapter, looking at minor wording changes for the parks and recreation department’s community goals.
“The primary issue was parks and recreation’s goal,” city planner Derrick Braaten said. “It seems like all the elements were there, but the language just wasn’t quite right. I ran it by parks and recreation and they stated that they would like us to run what we now have.”
Major changes were seen in introduction texts for each section, largely in the form of keeping continuity with previous years’ statements.
“Community Issues got modified quite a bit because, one, the years were getting out of whack and in fact, now that I’m thinking about it, it might be prudent to maintain that original language to explain the buildup to 2006 and then put the additions after that,” Braaten said.
He said the purpose of the chapter is to see not only where Airway Heights wanted to go in the future, but also to see how the city’s opinion has developed over time. Adding a separate section to document those changes would help to ensure that intent was met.
Braaten suggested the section of text should be inserted toward the beginning the chapter, to fully explain the tables’ contents.
“That way, we can go back and see an evolution as far as those key milestones,” Braaten said.
An example of the community’s vision, he said, could be seen with the area around Yoke’s store, which has been a central part of the city since its founding.
“That Yoke’s area has been envisioned as a village square, kind of mixed-use development area. On every zoning map that I’ve seen since the city was incorporated. For over 50 years, that’s been the vision,” Braaten said. “That’s why these documents are so important, because if you have your vision and adhere to your vision, you’ll get somewhere. But if you don’t, you just keep going in circles.”
During his staff report, Braaten said the safe routes to schools bid was going out later this month. Work on the project is expected to begin sometime after students at Sunset Elementary have gone home for the summer, in an attempt to decrease any potential interference with school activities.
A future meeting, either in May or June, will see the return of the city’s mixed-use overlay and general commercial zoning guidelines. Airway Heights has operated without a mixed-use ordinance for the last couple of months after it voted to repeal its previous ordinance. The replacement sought to bring more strict wording and have development match the new Joint Land Use Study requirements.
Three property owners are still waiting to hear about the city’s new mixed-use overlay, which has been in the works since 2011. Airway Heights operated under an emergency moratorium on mixed-use project submissions last year. Braaten said a new overlay would open up more flexible development types and provide alternative sites for more housing.
“We have to move forward with this,” he said. “We can’t delay any longer.”
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.