by Pia K. Hansen amd Dan Richardson

Continuous Growing Pains -- SPOKANE -- Growth and annexation issues have been brewing for years, and now some are coming to a boil in the courts.

The city of Spokane recently appealed the inclusion of the commercial-industrial Yardley area inside the proposed Spokane Valley boundary. The city has also appealed the county's comprehensive land-use plan -- because it doesn't allow the city to grow beyond its current boundary.

The Yardley dispute is particularly contentious, as proponents of incorporating the Spokane Valley blame the city's boundary appeal for, as they characterize it, striking down the people's right to vote.

A Valley incorporation vote was expected in March, but will probably be delayed. Both sides say they're willing to try to resolve the matter out of court, and Spokane Mayor John Powers, city staff and Spokane Valley incorporation supporters met to clear the air last Friday, Jan. 11.

But incorporation supporters continue their fire-breathing: Powers is an "agitator," said one supporter, while another said the city uses "Gestapo tactics."

The city has had long-standing plans to annex Yardley, where it has extended water and sewer lines. What has angered Spokane Valley supporters, their attorney Cary Driskell explains, was the boundary appeal's last-minute nature. The court document also initially named several incorporation leaders and their wives. "I think the prevailing thought was they were being intimidated," says Driskell.

In the growth management matter, the growth plan set by county commissioners designates land around the county for future urban development. But commissioners dismissed Spokane's request for growth areas, saying the city couldn't prove it could afford to provide services to areas it wanted to annex.

In its appeal to the Eastern Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, the city claims the county's plan violates state law.

Martin Luther King Day -- SPOKANE -- This year's Martin Luther King Day celebration stretches over two days, with a resource fair, a remembrance program and, of course, the downtown Unity March.

Martin Luther King Day celebrations began locally a little more than 25 years ago, but back then the day was mostly celebrated by a few churches. Today, several thousand people are expected to participate in the march on Monday.

"As our nation heals from recent tragedies, this year's program takes on a deeper meaning as we commemorate the vision of a man who brought hope and healing to our country," says Bernice Buchanan, a spokeswoman for the Martin Luther King committee. "We are all part of the dream of Martin Luther King."

The Unity March gathers on Main and Post at 10:30 am on Monday Jan. 21. The non-profit resource fair runs the same day, from 9:30 am-1 pm at River Park Square. Call: 744-3351.

Green Light to Rock Creek -- NOXON, Mont. -- Federal and state authorities have granted the proposed Rock Creek Mine its final permits. The 188-page Record of Decisions document composed by the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the Kootenai National Forest states that the proposed mine meets all environmental regulations, which is why a mining permit cannot be denied.

Located off the Clark Fork River, 25 miles upstream of Lake Pend Oreille, the mining project proposes to extract 10,000 tons of silver and copper ore every day for 35 years from beneath the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness Area. The mine would also release 3 million gallons of treated wastewater into the Clark Fork River daily, and leave 100 million tons of mine tailings behind when done. Sterling Mining Company, based in Veradale, owns the rights to the proposed mine.

Environmentalists in Washington, Montana and Idaho vow to continue their fight against a mine they say will endanger the few remaining grizzly bears and stocks of wild trout left in the protected wilderness area.

"We have 45 days to file an appeal to the regional forester in Missoula," says Mary C. Mitchell, executive director of the Rock Creek Alliance. "If denied, then we'd have to go to federal court and sue there. And we'd do that, definitely."

Sterling has indicated that current low prices on copper and silver may hold the mine in development for a while, but that doesn't put Mitchell at ease.

"Once they have a permit, they have it," she says. "It doesn't change anything for us to say that the mine is not going to be developed until another couple of years down the road."

Resale Trail @ Spokane

Through Dec. 3
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