Clarkston City Council deals final blow to prison site | North West


Clarkston City Council unanimously slammed the door Monday night on Asotin County’s plan to build a new jail near 14th Street and Port Drive.

With a 7-0 vote, the council accepted the factual findings and conclusions of the law presented by the city’s planning and zoning commission, saying the proper process had not been followed by the county of ‘Asotin and that a prison on this site did not match the city. full plan.

City attorney Todd Richardson said the city warned the county of the potential pitfalls of attempting to change zoning in that area shortly after the purchase contract was announced last fall. Instead, the county tried to “drive it down the city’s throat,” even though the change would violate the state’s constitution and city bylaws, the attorney said.

Asotin County Commissioner Brian Shinn said the county, architects and engineers at the prison had worked with Clarkston Public Works Director Kevin Poole to determine what action to take, and Poole told them advised to submit a request to change the text box.

When Poole recommended denying the application at a planning and zoning meeting earlier this month, it came as a “total surprise” to the county, Shinn said. “If we had known he would come up with his own direction to table a zone text amendment that conflicted with the overall city plan, we certainly would have taken a different path.”

Richardson said the mayor was told of the county’s intention to buy private Clarkston property about 15 minutes before the commissioners vote. Once the decision was made, Poole tried to be “open, clear and specific” with the county, and Richardson sent emails saying the county did not have the right to build a jail there.

Shinn said Richardson’s comments on Monday night were a repeat of previous messages he sent to the county. “His objections weren’t true then, and they aren’t true now,” Shinn said.

The findings of fact suggest that the proposed zoning would harm economic development near the Port of Clarkston, including river tourism, and is not in line with the city or port’s long-term plans. Additionally, city officials said the public had been told on several occasions that the jail would most likely be built along Sixth Avenue when the county developed support for a public safety sales tax to fund the project. of $ 13.7 million.

Councilor John Murray said the Port Drive site might be better than some of the alternatives being considered, but the city has a set of rules to follow in its overall plan and council has an obligation to follow those rules. As a result, Murray said he “couldn’t vote for something that is not in accordance with the rules we have adopted.”

The 6.4-acre parcel near the Snake River is one of the last places available for economic development within the city limits and it should not be taken off the tax roll, the councilor said. Skate Pierce. Clarkston executives need to plan for the future, and in 50 years it won’t make sense to have a prison in this prime location, he said, at the first face-to-face board meeting since start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Councilor Russ Evans agreed, saying it was in Clarkston’s best interest to save this property for future business. The waterfront has potential, and a prison near the river is not the ideal use of this land.

Several letters supporting the Port Drive jail site have been submitted to council. Former councilor Terry Beadles, directors of Quality Behavioral Health and Asotin County resident Jack Worle have all called for a speedy resolution to the issue.

Additionally, Casey Warloe of Asotin County has called on the city to reconsider the planning commission’s recommendation.

“While I know the overall city plan may not have included a correctional facility, the reality is that since the city was incorporated in 1902, nothing has been done with this land,” he said. writes Warloe. “Let’s just do what makes sense financially and logistically. A correctional facility in the harbor makes the most economical sense and makes the most sense. “

Councilor Melyssa Andrews said it was clear during town halls that no one wanted jail in their backyard. “It has all been frustrating for me, and I wish it had been different,” she said.

Asotin County can appeal the council’s decision, but Shinn said commissioners did not want to engage in litigation that would cost taxpayers more. The county will likely move forward with the Sixth Avenue location in the near future, which will involve the Asotin County Planning Commission, public hearings, and the Council of Commissioners.

Councilor Belinda Larsen announced her resignation from the board, saying it would be her last meeting. Larsen, who has been in office since 2015, has accepted a position in Dayton as director of the Chamber of Commerce. The mayor, city attorney and other council members wished her luck, saying she will be sadly missed. Larsen was an asset to the group who always asked good questions and did their homework, Lawrence said.

The city will begin accepting applications for the vacant position and conduct interviews before appointing a replacement.

“What an honor and a privilege to serve alongside my fellow advisers,” said Larsen. “It has been fun, stimulating, educational, interesting and insightful for 5½ years. To my Clarkston community, friends and family, thank you for your trust, encouragement and patience. “

Andrews said she did not seek re-election because she planned to step outside the city limits and pursue her dream of opening a petting zoo in Clarkston Heights. She will likely resign in the near future.


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