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Welcome to the City of Airway Heights Annexation Information Page

In an attempt to provide interested parties with information relating to the City of Airway Heights annexation process and activities, we have developed this information portal. It is our hope that this page will provide people with information they need to better understand the process, and what the City of Airway Heights is doing in relating to expansion of City boundaries, changes to the Urban Growth Areas (UGA) surrounding the City, and other relevant information.

If you have further questions relating to the City’s annexation process, feel free to contact the Planning Department at (509) 244-2552.

Most Recent Activities:

The City entered into an interlocal agreement with the City of Spokane, Spokane County and Spokane County Fire District 10 that set the general boundaries of the area to be annexed, when the annexation will take place, and which parts of the area would be annexed into which city.  The City annexed a portion of the area located east of Hayford Road in the Spokane County West Plains/Thorpe UGA/JPA, locally referred to as “the East Annexation Area” or “East UGA”.  Over the last five years, the development of approximately ½ square mile of this area has become “urban” in nature, meaning the land-uses, infrastructure, and density of development in the area is similar to that found within a city or town.

On January 1, 2012, this area was annexed into the City and will officially become part of Airway Heights. For properties in this area, water and sewer service are provided by the City of Spokane. Refuse service is provided by Sunshine All otehr 

In March, 2012, the City annexed approximately 145 acres of land in the West UGA/JPA, held in trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) for the Spokane Tribe of Indians. There are approximately 210 additional acres contained within the West UGA/JPA that have not been annexed, primarily south of Highway 2 (170 acres) and an additional 40 acres north of the highway.

 Annexation Area Business Owners/ Operators Tax Reporting Changes

Annexation Areas Map (pdf)
East Annexation Zoning Map
West Plains UGA Area Map (pdf)
Final 2008 Comprehensive Plan Map (pdf)
CityVision Article Dec 2010

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is an “annexation”?

“Annexation” refers to when people in an unincorporated area or potential annexation area (called Urban Growth Areas or UGAs in Spokane County) vote or petition to become part of a city, or service district, to receive urban services such as police, fire, parks, and roads. Under the Growth Management Act (GMA), annexations can only occur if the land to be annexed is within an area that has been designated as a UGA. Generally, the annexation process begins through the use of one of three methods:

Landowner Petition: occurs when land-owners controlling no less than 10% of the total value of the area to be annexed petition a jurisdiction to annex their property.

Council Initiated Election: occurs when a jurisdiction’s legislating body (the City Council or service district’s controlling board) initiates an annexation of land and then holds a special election to determine whether the area will be annexed.

Interlocal Agreement: occurs when jurisdictions serving an area and those jurisdictions for which an area is a potential annexation area develop agreements relating to how an area will be annexed and served.

2. What is an Urban Growth Area (UGA)?

Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) are areas of land, usually bordering a city or service district, considered to be potential annexation areas for surrounding jurisdictions, and in Spokane County, as areas to locate developments of urban density in rural, unincorporated areas of the County. UGAs are established by Spokane County, in cooperation with cities and towns, to accommodate projected population growth, both residential and commercial, throughout the County over the next twenty (20) years. These areas are under Spokane County’s jurisdiction until they are annexed into another jurisdiction. 

Some UGAs are created to provide for rural development at higher than rural (low density) intensity.Unincorporated Rural Centers are unincorporated rural areas that create rural “cluster developments” (usually small subdivisions) or “regional commercial centers” that may be developed beyond rural levels. These land areas are not generally located close enough to incorporated cities or towns to be considered for annexation into a city or town.

UGAs generally fall into one of two types:

Incorporated Urban UGAs are incorporated cities or towns. All incorporated cities and towns are considered UGAs.

Unincorporated Urban UGAs are areas in Spokane County that are designated as potential annexation areas for incorporated cities and towns, usually bordering cities or towns, that are expected to accommodate a percentage of the new rural population and that will eventually be developed to urban levels.

3. How is an Urban UGA established?

As Spokane County continues to grow in population, some newcomers will want to live in rural areas (approximately 25%), whereas others will desire to live in urban areas (approximately 75%). Each city or town is expected to try and accommodate an assigned population increase within its corporate limits. After an in-depth analysis of existing land-use activities and land availability, cities and towns determine how much growth they can accommodate within their existing corporate limits and notify the County of that number. The difference between how much of the assigned growth can be absorbed within the existing corporate limits and the total population increase assigned to that city or town, is the primary variable used to determine the size of an urban UGA.

4. Why consider annexation now?

Over the last five years, the development of approximately ½ square mile of this area has become “urban” in nature, meaning the land-uses, infrastructure, and density of development in the area is similar to that found within a city or town.

While annexation of this area has been discussed for years, one of the challenges for the City has been the fact that this area is a Joint Planning Area, or JPA, involving the City of Airway Heights, Spokane County, and the City of Spokane.  Also, until recently, the area had not been built to urban densities. In 2008, land-owners in the area petitioned the City of Airway Heights to annex approximately 1 square mile of the area. Because of this UGA’s status as a JPA, the City of Airway Heights, Spokane County, and the City of Spokane signed an agreement in December, 2009, to formulate a process that allows the City of Spokane to annex approximately 9 square miles, primarily Spokane International Airport (SIA) property.  Approximately ½ square mile, including Wal-Mart, Cedar Summit Apts and Duplexes, and the Sekani residential subdivision north of SR-2, and properties west of Deer Heights Rd, and the Dealer Auto Auction (DAA) properties south of SR-2 into City of Airway Heights. 

5. How would annexation affect my services and taxes?

I live in Airway Heights: When a city annexes new areas, the new residents and businesses may be subject to the same taxes that are in place in the city at the time annexation takes place. If annexation occurs, the City Council intends to provide a consistent level of service throughout its new boundaries based on the services now received by Airway Heights’ residents. The City is taking into account the full cost of providing services to the annexation area, rather than spreading existing resources across the larger area and potentially impacting services within Airway Heights.

I live in the UGA: Airway Heights prides itself on the level of service it provides to residents, and it is the City’s intent to provide the same level of service to the annexation area as it provides within the existing City limits. Airway Heights already provides secondary fire protection and emergency medical services to the area. Annexation would not affect school district boundaries.

6. How would annexation affect fire and police services?

Spokane County Fire District #10 currently provides primary fire and emergency medical services to most of the annexation area, with the City of Airway Heights providing secondary services to the area. Upon annexation, the City of Airway Heights Fire Department will act as the primary responders for the area being annexed into Airway Heights.

The Spokane County Sheriff’s Department currently provides primary police services to the annexation area, with the City of Airway Heights Police Department providing secondary service, especially in the area being annexed into Airway Heights. Upon annexation, the City of Airway Heights Police Department will act as the primary responders for the area being annexed into Airway Heights.

7. When would annexation happen?
The East Annexation becomes effective on January 1, 2012.  Currently, those residents in the East Annexation area are in Spokane County and under the County's statutory authority.  After January 1, 2012, those residents in the 1/2 square mile west of Deer Heights Rd will become residents of Airway Heights.

8. Would the zoning in my neighborhood change?

I live in Airway Heights: Annexation would not affect zoning within the current city limits.

I live in the UGA: The City of Airway Heights would apply the existing Airway Heights zoning districts that are most comparable with Spokane County’s existing zoning, or a zoning designation that most closely reflects the actual use on the ground, to the UGA. That means that if annexation is approved, the minimum lot sizes, setbacks, and permitted uses are likely to be similar, if not identical to the current zoning. Any proposed changes to zoning would be considered through an open public process.

On December 5, 2011, the City of Airway Heights City Council approved the new zoning designations for the annexation area.  A copy of the 2012 zoning map can be found here.

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