Richmond Lane No Longer Taxiway

The Chewelah City Council has repealed the resolution from June 1988 that started the process of designating Richmond Lane at Chewelah North as an aircraft taxiway in addition to a city roadway.

The resolution from June 7, 1988, which reconvened June 21, 1989, declared the council’s intent to create an ordinance to allow homeowners at Richmond Lane direct access to the Chewelah Airport by aircraft but that ordinance was never completed.

Nevertheless, it has been used as a taxiway since the resolution was first passed.

The current city council revoked the resolution at the Nov. 21, 2012 regular meeting because the city’s insurance will not insure any roadway that allows aviation operation. Furthermore, attorney Charles Schuerman said the city had exceeded its authority to determine it as a taxiway in the first place. It must be brought to an authorized aviation agency, he said.

Schuerman also said the city is working toward other options to authorize it as a taxiway, including the creation of the Richmond Lane Airport Homeowners Association. Currently, anything can be towed on the roadway but planes cannot be operated on Richmond Lane.

The resolution repeal was the first step in formally dedicating all roads and easements within the Chewelah Golf and Country Club (that are part of the annexed city limits) to the city. The deed for the roads was never formally accepted even though the city has maintained them for years.

Ordinance No. 849, introduced at the Nov. 21 meeting, reads as follows: Providing for the acceptance from the Chewelah Golf and Country Club Association of the Deed for Conveyance and Dedication of all roads and easements within said golf and country club plans which are currently within the annexed city limits with specific requirements for potential conditional dual use of Richmond Lane as an Aircraft Taxiway as well as for automobile traffic.

City resident Tim Schwantz questioned the council on who would be paying for the roads newly dedicated to the city. City Administrator Mike Frizzell said that it is just a formality and will not cost the city any additional money since it concerns roads that the city already maintains.

The city council voted unanimously at the Nov. 21 meeting to amend the Chewelah Municipal Code to increase water and sewer taxes from 15 to 17 percent and implement a garbage tax at 17 percent (adoption of Ordinance No. 847). The tax increases have been initiated as a way to help make up for a $250,000 loss in the general fund for Fiscal Year 2013. They will take effect in December to be reflected in the January 2013 billing cycle.

Ordinance No. 850 was also introduced at the Nov. 21 council meeting declaring the intent of the city to join and be annexed into the Stevens County Rural Library District, requesting the concurrence of the district board of trustees, and requesting the county commissioners to call an election for the purpose of submitting the annexation to the voters of the city.

If approved by all three parties, the ballot proposition, intended for the April 2013 special election and only asked to city residents, would read: Proposition No. 1 “Shall the City of Chewelah be annexed to and be part of the Stevens County Rural Library District?”

Since the council has removed library funding from the 2013 proposed budget, which will be voted on at the Dec. 5 meeting, the ballot proposition gives voters a choice on whether or not to annex into the library district and allow Libraries of Stevens County to solely provide those services to the city.

Annexing would add another layer of taxation for city residents. County library patrons currently pay nearly 39 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

If the proposition does not pass, Chewelah residents would not be permitted to use any library in Stevens County according to district by-laws.

The city is in the process of creating an interlocal agreement with the library district to keep the library open part-time in 2013 if the city puts annexation on the election ballot and allows the district use of the existing library building for three years.

Putting the question to the voters will cost the city approximately $5,000.

The council held a public hearing on the Community Development Block Grant program available through the state on a competitive basis.

About $12 million is available through CDBG that provides funds for public facilities, community facilities, affordable housing, public services and planning projects that principally benefit low and moderate income persons.

Frizzell is working to help put a plan together and apply for funding on two Chewelah development projects eligible for possible CDBG grant money. Applications are due by Jan. 31.

Chewelah is eligible to apply for $950,000 to complete Segment B of Main Avenue to upgrade elements such as the asphalt, sidewalks, streetlights and curbing. The city is also eligible to apply for $123,950 to add new sidewalks along Lincoln Avenue to make it safer for students walking to and from school.

To be eligible for the grants, the council must hold public hearings to encourage input on determining the priorities of community members regarding improvements that are most needed in Chewelah.

Community members and council members made suggestions such as the need for new police patrol cars, waterline and fire hydrant upgrades, and pool facility funding.

By Kellie Trudeau, The Independent Staff