Cheney Free Press -

By Grace Pohl
Staff Intern 

Two Airway Heights City Council members sworn in

 

December 7, 2017

Grace Pohl

Councilman James (Sonny) Weathers was sworn in at the Dec. 4 City Council meeting. Weathers previously served on the city's Planning Commission.

At the Dec. 4 Airway Heights City Council meeting, two members were sworn into their positions. The first one was recently elected James (Sonny) Weathers. The second one was Veronica Messing, who was sworn in for the second time due to moving her name into another position.

Right after the ceremony, the Airway Heights City Council dove into conversation with Development Services Director Derrick Braaten about four different rezones being proposed.

Braaten reported that there was a full house during the public hearing at the Planning Commission meeting on Nov. 30 because of the ZMA 2017-04 rezone. This includes 20-acres of land located in the northwest quadrant of the city, which is comprised of two 10-acre parcels.

The properties are proposed to go from an R-1, single family residential to an R-3, multi-family residential. This is to accommodate the alternative housing for residents located south of Highway 2 and within the Fairchild Air Force Base APZ (accident potential zone).

"I was wowed with the showing," Braaten said. "The audience was respectful and it was almost awe-inspiring to see so many people show up. I want to see them continue to show up because we have an interest in what they have to say."

The residents that showed up to oppose the rezone were mainly from the Hunter's Crossing development, which is right next to where the potential growth would be. The citizens showed concern over their own property value and questioned who would be moving into the area.

"I understand why people are upset," Mayor Kevin Richey said.

Richey also went on to ask Braaten what would happen if they denied the rezone. Braaten explained that basically the APZ housing plan would take a step backwards and they would have to go back to square one.

Councilman Larry Bowman is also a resident in Hunter's Crossing and has had numerous people approach him on the issue.

"They are mainly concerned about who we are getting as neighbors and how it will affect our pocketbooks," Bowman said.

The other concern from citizens was that they did not want a new apartment complex behind their houses. But Braaten explained that it will not be apartments. Instead, it will be a cottage style housing that will range from 800-1,100 square foot homes.

"This is an option to help provide for everyone in our community without using apartments," Messing said.

City Attorney Stanley Schwartz suggested doing a planning and a development agreement if the council would approve the rezone. This would help the density, and the design to gain approval by the council before anything is done.

The commission will make their final recommendations on all four rezones being proposed at the Dec. 13 meeting. The council will then make the final decision on Dec. 18.

In other business, the council approved the final reading of the 2018 budget.

"Financially the city is in a good position," City Manager Albert Tripp said.

The council also approved the salaries and compensation for the city employees in 2018, which added five new positions. The jobs are a court clerk, an associate planner, a code technician and two patrol officers.

Parks and Recreation Director JC Kennedy talked to the council about allowing the city manager to enter into agreements on the Airway Heights Recreation Complex project with the city attorney to approve future items. It means that as long as the center stays in the $17.26 million budget, Kennedy will not have to go to the council to approve every little thing that comes up, but instead go through the city manager and attorney.

"This is to not delay the process as long as it is in the budget," Kennedy added.

Schwartz also pointed out that it is just a way to be efficient with time.

Grace Pohl can be reached at grace@cheneyfreepress.com.

 

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