Staff Reporter 

Airway Heights commission has questions about housing proposal


A multifamily development north of Highway 2 on Craig Road drew some raised eyebrows at the Airway Heights Planning Commission.

The project, still in the planning stages, was the topic of a workshop at the commission’s Monday, Aug. 12 meeting. It’s meant to provide housing opportunities to residents living in Accident Potential Zone Two, leading to the runway of Fairchild Air Force Base. Those residents would have the first opportunity to move into the facility.

Development Services Director Derrick Braaten said the city doesn’t normally entertain requests like these so close to the boundaries established by the Joint Land Use Study document, especially one that was zoned R-3 or dense residential.

“It’s a little bit of a risky zone for the city,” he said.

The JLUS coordinating committee, comprised of representatives from all of the players involved in the land-use document, looked at the proposal July 31.

“They’re set up for these types of situations,” Braaten said.

From that meeting, the coordinating committee put forth the requirement of having no more than 15 units per acre. Originally the project planned for 18-20 units per acre, but it has since dropped down to 14.8, according to Braaten.

Commissioner Elaine Sielaff had some questions regarding the plan, however, considering it was close to another apartment complex. She also said there wasn’t a way to fit 200 cars in the area, noting that it appeared too small. Braaten countered, saying there was sufficient parking availability for the proposal.

“This is just a conceptual drawing, it’s not meant for detail,” he said.

The building complex has up to two entry points, the second of which will be fully furnished once 35 units are filled. Until that point, only one entry point is required, with the second acting as an emergency entrance.

Sielaff also said some residents had concerns that another apartment complex in the area would lower home values.

“Who is going to want to buy a single family home next to that?” she asked.

Braaten also mentioned Spokane County’s bond proposal, which will be on the November election ballot. The bond would collect 6.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation for no more than nine years, a total that would average $15 on a $200,000 home each year.

Written comments for the project are accepted up until Friday, Sept. 6.

Braaten emphasized that there was no obligation for the city to approve the request, but also noted that there were few areas available in the city to develop a multifamily facility for residents living in APZ Two.

“The purpose and target for these units is to provide alternative housing, potentially, for the residents of Solar World,” Braaten said.

Braaten said this was an opportunity for the attempt to reduce the residential density in APZ Two to move forward.

“Right now, these people have nowhere to go and he’s one of the few developers that is in a psoitiion to pull that trigger, and shortly,” he said.

The only other action taken by the Planning Commission was to confirm the nomination of Commissioner Lorna Jones as vice chair. Commissioner Vincent Williams resigned within the past couple of weeks, leaving another position open on the five-member body.

The next Planning Commission meeting is Monday, Sept. 9 at 6 p.m. in council chambers. There, the public will have a chance to comment on the proposed rezone regarding the multifamily building.

James Eik can be reached at


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