Lack of quorum stalls future projects
The city of Airway Heights is in dire need of planning commissioners.
After several meetings were canceled this year due to a lack of quorum, it’s beginning to affect some proposed projects in the city. The latest meeting, Wednesday, Nov. 13, was among those canceled. The Planning Commission’s membership held fairly steady at the beginning of the year, but commissioners started leaving toward the start of the summer due to other commitments or time constraints.
The commission’s newest member attended only one meeting before resigning due to work conflicts.
Development Services Director Derrick Braaten said one project in particular has been delayed for two months: the Aspen Craig rezone. That project would allow Defender Developments to start moving forward on their plan for multifamily housing just north of Highway 2 on Craig Road. The development could provide alternative housing for residents living in Accident Potential Zone Two, an encroachment concern for Fairchild Air Force Base.
“There can be no changes to development codes, zoning maps, no zoning changes; none of that stuff can move forward,” Braaten said.
Other issues facing the city right now include developing marijuana regulations and multifamily zoning on the east side of the city limits. Also on the docket is reviewing the city’s comprehensive plan, although that has a bit of a lengthy timeline at the moment, facing a deadline of 2015.
More important than the passage of projects and zoning issues, Braaten said the Planning Commission is a way to help guide the city into the future.
“It shapes the community. The Planning Commission is the citizens’ advisory group that represents the citizens, the residents and the community,” he said. “It double-checks to make sure the staff isn’t doing anything wrong and makes it so that what does come out of our proposed changes to regulations reflects the desires of the citizens, not just the government.”
Braaten said this is the first time in over 10 years that membership on the commission has become an issue. There are two current members, with three needed to form a quorum. To qualify, applicants must live in the city, own property in Airway Heights or have an interest in the city. Meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m.
There isn’t a requirement for a city’s planning commission to meet a specific number of times each year, but they do so as issues come up.
Some cities don’t have planning commissions, instead choosing to approve projects through other means. But, Braaten said having residents’ feedback is invaluable in the development process, empowering them to take part in the city’s future.
Although the Planning Commission can’t take any action during a meeting, Braaten said some smaller items could still be discussed.
“It really gives you a good idea for what’s going on in your community regarding land development, businesses and other things that are coming in,” he said. “And, you’re serving your community. You’re helping make the community work.”
For more information on the Planning Commission, contact Braaten at 509-244-2552.
James Eik can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.