Cheney commission recommends denial of Clay rezone
Cheney’s Planning Commission voted unanimously at its March 17 meeting to recommend denying a proposed rezone near Centennial Park that would have allowed for a higher residential density on property next door.
Randall Gillingham, owner of property at 625 Clay St., had applied for a change in zoning on his one-third acre property from R-3, multi-family residential, to R-3H, high-density multifamily, at the behest of the city’s Planning Department. Approval of the rezone would have allowed him to construct an apartment complex of up to 14 units on the site, versus about five under R-3.
Planning Department staff recommended approval of the rezone, noting it met various criteria under the city’s comprehensive plan, such as to “grow and sustain a balanced, resilient economy for Cheney, providing community prosperity and fiscal health.” Staff found the rezone met several comp plan polices, including development of compatible infill housing and encouraging a wide variety of residential buildings consistent with community needs and planning.
Gillingham’s application met with considerable resistance from the surrounding neighborhood, particularly from homeowners on the other side of Clay Street, which is zoned single-family residential. Neighbors were particularly concerned the proposed complex would bring more traffic to an area that sees a high volume during times Centennial Park is in use, creating dangerous situations for pedestrians and parking problems for residents.
That opposition continued at the March 17 meeting with a group of condominium owners on Clay Street east of the property expressing concerns about impacts to stormwater drainage the proposed complex might create. Mike Maxsom, speaking for the owners, said they are already experiencing problems with existing development, noting owners often have to pump out basements as well as dealing with mold and excessive inside condensation.
Maxsom said owners have addressed these issues with the city prior to the current rezone application. One condo owner, Joanne Nelson, also spoke to the other area residents’ traffic concerns.
“We just think this will be adding traffic, adding noise and adding issues,” she said.
Homeowner Tom Balderee added in testimony that he has observed residents of another complex next door to Gillingham’s property exiting their parking lot without looking for oncoming traffic. Balderee said he’s learned to stop when driving by the complex and look to make certain no one is coming or going.
“To bump it up anymore units is not pleasant,” he added.
Commissioner Curt Critchlow noted after testimony concluded that he felt they had received a good idea of the circumstances involving the rezone. NAI Realtor Brian Anderson, representing Gillingham, had made a good presentation for the merits of the rezone at the commission’s February meeting, Critchlow said, and residents had made their opposition clear.
Commission chair Vince Barthels said for him, the decision goes back to the comp plans goals and policies.
“The word that sticks out most to me is compatibility,” he said.
In voting against the rezone, Commissioner Keith Fauerso said upgrading the zoning isn’t going to change the residential infill abilities under the comp plan. Even at R-3, Fauerso said there is a wide variety of affordable housing that can be offered.
“My perspective is I don’t see the reason to go to R-3H on that site,” he said.
The commission’s recommendation to deny the rezone went to the City Council for a final decision at their March 25 meeting.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.