Cheney Free Press -


Council reviews non-conforming uses


The Cheney City Council finally got zoning issues off its agenda at its final meeting in April Tuesday night, but not without some last minute changes.

The changes came from city attorney Stanley Schwartz, who sent a memo detailing issues he had with language in Section 97 of the city’s municipal code Chapter 21, the amending and repealing of sections being addressed under Ordinance W-22. Schwartz questioned a code amendment stating that when a non-conforming building or primary structure along First Street between Betz and Mullinix roads was considered a total loss by a qualified design professional, the non-conforming use must be discontinued and any new structure is in conformance with that area’s codes.

On the other hand, if a similar situation occurred anywhere else in Cheney, the owner of the destroyed non-conforming use would be allowed to continue the use and rebuild the structure. A non-conforming use is a structure that at one time was conforming to the area codes and through changes no longer fits, but was grand-fathered in.

Schwartz said grandfathered uses are not always favored uses, and generally amortized out of existence. By allowing the amendment to stand, if a supermarket located in a residential area burned down, that supermarket would be allowed to rebuild.

Schwartz said most jurisdictions have language stating if a qualified design professional determines a non-conforming use is 60 percent destroyed, it cannot be rebuilt. The council accepted Schwartz’s recommendation to pass Ordinance W-22, but exclude Section 97, which will be addressed with new language at the next council meeting.

In other action, the council gave its approval to Public Works Director Todd Ableman to apply for some of the $18 million in project funding being provided for fiscal years 2016-2019 by the Spokane Regional Transportation Council. The council is calling for projects under its Surface Transportation Program, 70 percent of which Ableman said normally go to preservation projects like those Cheney has in its six-year transportation plan.

Council approved a request by Cheney’s police and fire chiefs to apply for a $27,618 Washington Cities Insurance Authority Risk Reduction Grant to fund personnel training for tactical shooter protection equipment the city received via a Spokane County grant several months ago.

The council also approved renewing an interlocal agreement with Spokane County for judicial services “pursuant to the re-appointment of Judge Gregory J. Tripp as the city of Cheney Municipal Court Judge.” The agreement is for five years, which covers the last year of Tripp’s current term and his next four-year term if re-elected. Schwartz said the new contract better aligns with Spokane County election cycles.

Finally, the council approved a request for a $12,093, five-year lease on large-format Ricoh copier, allowing for better map and construction plan reproduction. The Light and Public Works departments will share the copier and split the $201.55 monthly charge.

John McCallum can be reached at

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