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Cheney Free Press
Cheney , Washington
December 24, 2015     Cheney Free Press
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December 24, 2015

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I CHI=NEY FREE PRESS Thursday, December24, 2015 NEWS Cheney commissioners reju By JOHN McCALLUM Editor The Dec. 14 meeting of the Cheney Planning Commission may have marked the first time the word "jihadi" has ever been used in local municipal proceedings. The commission held a public hearing at the meeting as a requirement of an emergency-zoning ordinance implemented by the City Council Nov. 10. The ordinance deals with confusion over zoning of a one-block, dead-end street known as Washington Court, which extends north off Elm Street near Eastern Washington University's Dressier Residence Hall, and a proposal to build an apartment complex on one side of the street. According to information from the city, the area between Washington Court and what was then known as North Eleventh Street was zoned R-3 multifamily in 1966, and then rezoned R-3 on the west side of the street, and P (Public) on the east side in 1994. Five single-family residences were built on both sides of the street in the 1950s, plans for which city planner Brett Lucas told the commission are no longer on file with the city and Were likely never kept. Public Works Director Todd Ableman added that North Eleventh Street was vacated about this same time period, and that Washington Court was actu- ally. designed to be an alley. Water for the five homes comes from EWU, not the city, he added. The issue regarding zoning and actual land us- age on Washington Court came to the' attention of city staff in September when the owner of the lots on the west side of the street, Nasir S. Al Zaria, ap- plied for a pre-application meeting to discuss the feasibility of building a six-unit apartment complex behind the existing residence at 16 N. Washington Court. The council elected to impose the ordinance, which proposes amending the city zoning map for Washington Court to R-l, single family, while in the interim conducting studies and hearings into the best land use for the area. Cheney property owner Rusty Hallin saw the move a different way. In public testimony, Hallin, who said he is an ad- junct engineering professor at EWU, claimed the city really imposed the interim ordinance because of fears over a "jihadi attack:' in the city, due to the fact the landowners and proponents of the apartment complex are from the Middle East. Two of the sons of A1 Zaria are students of Hallin's, and he was emphatic in his stance that the city should allow them to proceed with their building plans. "It's zoned multifamily and they should be able to build multifamily there," Hallin said, later adding that such a development would be a benefit to the university across the street. Commissioner Dan Tubeville told Hallin he was "way off base" with his comments regarding the council's reason for implementing the ordinance, and the two got into a heated exchange over each other's former military service. At the end of his testimony, Hallin asked Tubeville if he was going to "railroad over these guys." "Absolutely not," Tubeville replied. One of A1 Zaria's sons, Mohammed Hadi, told the commission the family, which is from Iraq, was ms at rln settling permanently in the United States and selling property they owned back home to make good-faith investments in this country. In a letter to the com- mission, another son, Ghanim A1 Zaria, said he was handling the family businesses here in the U.S. be- cause his father was ill and currently unable to travel overseas. "My father purchased the property in Cheney not only because my brother and I attended Eastern Washington University; (but) also because we like the environment in the community of Cheney," Ghanim A1 Zaria wrote. Ableman later noted that one of the obstacles to multifamily development at Washington Court was supplying city water, something he esti- mated would cost in the neighborhood Of $100,000 - $150,000 if not more due to nearby EWU infra- structure. Hadi said that if water is the only reason for not maintaining the multifamily zoning that the family would be willing to invest some money to help with improvements. City attorney Stanley Schwartz told the commis- sion and everyone else in attendance that the reason for the ordinance was to call a "time out" to examine the land use issues. Staff will be taking public testi- mony and other data in order to produce a recom- mendation on what is best for the area. "This is not the end of the process. This is the very beginning," Schwartz said. "The goal is to make zoning which is compatible with the surrounding area." John McCallum can be reached at jmac@cheneyfreepress. com. Photo by John McCallum A grand fill up The Cheney Fire Department presented a $2,304.68 check to the Spokane chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Asso- ciation as part of the national firefighter's Fill the Boot fund- raising campaign. Pictured left to right back row are CFD battalion chief Ken Johnson, MDA executive director Leah Nathan, MDA health care ser- vices coordinator Brooke Uvely and Cheney firelighter Tanner Steffan. Front row are Cheney firefighters Tyler Gustafson (left) and Chris Cwik (right): We offer residential re-roofs, tear-offs, new construction and commercial work. We specialize in: - Composition - Steel - Flat roofing - Aluminum - Copper Call Brad Hemenway at 509.991.4667 for a free estimate today ! License No. BJROOR*885LG continued from page 1 Councilman Art Kulib- in Cheney at the same Council also adopted two eft, who was attending his time. separate resolutions in sup- 2014 indicated there were final meeting before step- "I'm not doing this for port of the budget. 25 total absences ranging ping down, said the first the money," Paikuli said.The first set adminis- from 2-9 per each council time he served on council "There's better ways to trative fees and charges member, and 18 total ab- in the late 1990s, the pay make an extra 50 bucks." for the coming year. The sences in 2015 through the was $100. He added coun- City Administrator resolution included rais- Nov. 3 meeting, cil members are available to Doug Ross told the coun- ing the youth sports fee Henderson said the city residents all the time, and cil the increase was Mayor to $40, including tax, from spends $1,400 a month pay- don'tjust attend meetings, John Higgins idea. Ross $35 plus tax; changing the ing the current seven coun- "We don't know whatadded the last time the yoga class fee to allow it cil members, whichwould a person is giving up to council's paywasincreased to be set by the instruc- increase to $1,750 a month attend a meeting," Kulib- was in 2004. tor, and raising the yearly under the proposal, ert said, adding during a "Themayorjustthought amount the city charges "Both offer an excellent term years ago, his work in 11 years, $50 wasn't too for use of its firing range hourly rate, no matter the schedule wouldn't allow much," he said. from $1,000 to $2,500. number of me