Cheney Free Press -



Cheney Planning Commission wraps up zoning review

Board also gets update report on wetlands work around Bi-Mart


John McCallum

A wetland report given to the Cheney Planning Commission indicated that the area around Minnie Creek (shown above behind Bi-Mart looking east in May) is close to returning to its natural state before construction of the store.

Cheney's Planning Commission wrapped up workshop discussions on revisions to its zoning code Monday night, dealing with eight sections of Chapter 21 during the one hour and 45 minute meeting.

Most of the work were housekeeping items, adjusting language to be more consistent to other parts of the code along with moving or eliminating subsections. One section, 21.41, Solar Development, was eliminated entirely since there had not been any call for its use since being adopted several years.

Most of the review and discussion centered on three chapters. Chapter 21.34, Business Park (BP) Zone, was eliminated and elements of it were combined into Chapter 21.36, Light Industrial (I-1 and BP) Zones.

Most of the land zoned as such is located in the city's southwest portion along SR 904 heading towards Tyler, including two business parks, one of which is the Cheney Industrial and Commerce Park. There was little discussion from commissioners regarding aspects of the zoning such as minimum lot size (none), minimum setbacks, building height, parking or landscaping requirements.

One specific comment made was by Commission Chair Vince Barthels, who questioned why warehouse/freight movement was listed as not allowed in the Table of Uses under Business Park. Barthels noted such activity was typically something one of the Industrial and Commerce Park's current tenants, All-Pak Trojan, engage in.

Bartels also said cities such as Walla Walla and the Tri-Cities were allowing eating and drinking establishments, another prohibited BP use, to locate inside business parks, particularly as these establishments are connected with the local wine industry, a niche industry for some parks.

"With Eastern and this (BP) already established it might be a good idea to offer up a lot more opportunities with this," Barthels said.

City Administrator Arlene Fisher said it might be something the city could look at, especially as it considers if its business park would be suitable to some sort of niche industry. But she noted the current park was built with federal grant money, which carried with it stipulations on the park's use.

"We have to go back and look at that grant and make sure that we are parallel with those uses," she said.

Commissioner Curt Critchlow asked Fisher if the city received inquires about the park. Fisher replied that she and Mayor Tom Trulove had showed the park four times since June to perspective national clients, who found most aspects of the park appealing, with the exception of transportation concerns about getting goods in and out of the city via SR 904.

"It's certainly not sitting out there idle," Fisher said. "It gets a lot of interest and a lot of looks."

Commissioners also reviewed Chapter 21.37 regarding the Public (P) Zone, mainly located in and around Eastern Washington University. City planner Brett Lucas told the commission that the university could do just about anything it wants regarding uses on campus, and that the chapter was mainly updated to provide it guidelines and standards the city would look for in potential construction.

"A lot of these things the university already does do," Lucas said.

The commission also received an update on the Bi-Mart Wetlands Annual Monitoring Report. The report is part of the agreement allowing the construction of Bi-Mart, but deals with work done to the wetlands in and around Minnie Creek by property owner Todd Tarbert.

The report prepared by wetland scientist Jim Johnson of Practical Planning Services concluded the "overall site has more diversity of plants than are upstream or downstream of this location." With continuation of weed control through mechanical means and spraying, the planting of Pacific Willow trees among existing Reed Canary Grass and "continued introduction of plants by Mother Nature," the stream and wetlands area "will soon meet and probably exceed the natural ecological threshold for this area."

John McCallum can be reached at


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