AH council plans for housing
Highland Village will assist residents moving out of Fairchild Air Force Base APZ
Last updated 8/8/2019 at 9:13am
The Airway Heights City Council faced an extensive agenda at its Aug. 5 meeting, honoring local legislators and hearing a presentation relating to a proposed Highland Village development resolution.
Council first unanimously passed a resolution honoring the 6th District’s legislative delegation, comprised of Sen. Jeff Holy, Rep. Mike Volz and Rep. Jenny Graham, for their work during the 2019 legislative session. Airway Heights received significant funds from this year’s session, including more than $5 million for the Highland Village development and nearly $2 million to bring reclaimed water to the Airway Heights Corrections Center.
Holy, who was present at the meeting, said the council has been “throwing (him) softballs” and make it easy for legislators to help it meet its goals.
“You’re the model on the West Plains,” Holy said. “You all say, ‘we’ll make it happen.’”
The council then heard a brief presentation from Meg Winchester of Visit Spokane, discussing tourism and marketing opportunities for the city. Winchester said Visit Spokane will be looking to hear from citizens about what makes Airway Heights great in order to plan targeted marketing and drive visitors to the area.
Council unanimously approved a task order for 21st Avenue’s preliminary design and adopted a series of ordinances pertaining to city employee salaries and pet grooming zoning, but perhaps the biggest item on the agenda was the resolution to approve the Highland Village Planned Unit Development overlay zone and preliminary plat.
Highland Village, a development that has been in the works for years, will be located on 20.05 acres north of 3rd Avenue and Lundstrum and is intended to supply alternate housing options for resident’s living in Fairchild Air Force Base’s Accident Potential Zone (APZ). Housing non-profits Community Frameworks and Habitat for Humanity Spokane have joined forces to develop the village.
A representative for the project said many currently living in mobile home parks in the APZ are living in “very substandard housing.”
Council heard a presentation on the progress and details of the development prior to its resolution approval. According to that presentation, the development will consist of 113 lots with the potential for 150 homes that will be available for rent or for purchase.
Many of those homes will be small cottage homes, about 24 feet wide on a 36-foot lot. Homes will be a combination of ranchers and two-story buildings, with larger three and four-bedroom houses on the edge of the development and multi-family dwellings at the center. About 10 percent of the project will be open space, which is to include a public park.
Developers plan to install a six-foot sidewalk to improve walkability and picket fences in some areas. The surrounding streetscape will be designed with lush trees paralleling the sidewalk. The buildings will primarily have rear and alley parking.
“Even though the houses will be less expensive, you won’t notice it as much, partly because the effort being put into the streetscape,” a project representative said.
According to project leaders, the goal will be to move people from the APZ while preventing mobile home park owners and managers from backfilling the parks with additional tenants.
Some council members questioned how developers would control housing prices as the West Plains expands. Councilman James “Sonny” Weathers said that since 2000, Airway Heights has grown by 112 percent. Project leaders suggested possibilities like equity-sharing for purchased homes and sweat equity performed ahead of the home’s development in the tradition of Habitat for Humanity.
According to city documents, 85 percent of the housing will be reserved for relocating residents, many of whom are senior citizens, individuals with disabilities and low-income families.
Much remains to be decided as the development progresses, like the breakdown of payment responsibilities for traffic mitigation fees, finalization of rental requirements and the possibility of a homeowner’s association that would maintain yards for residents.
Following the presentation, the council unanimously approved the overlay zone and preliminary plat for Highland Village.
Shannen Talbot can be reached at email@example.com.