Manito neighbors fight church parking lot expansion


by, Othello Richards

Posted on March 22, 2010 at 5:35 PM

SPOKANE -- Plans to build a church parking lot in place of two homes on Spokane's South Hill have outraged some neighbors.

St. Marks Lutheran Church sits near 24th and Grand in the Manito Park neighborhood. Church officials say they want to expand their parking to accommodate more members, with a more level entrance and exit on 25th.

Project coordinator Dick Thiel says on a busy Sunday as many as 60 cars can park along 24th. Also, during the winter, Thiel says a parking lot could reduce the number of collisions from people parking on the street.

"It gets plowed fairly late in the process and it results in some pretty treacherous driving," says Thiel.

Some neighbors say a bigger parking lot isn't the answer, and that only a handful more cars will be off the street because of zoning restrictions.

"Do you buy in a neighborhood to live in a parking lot?" says neighbor Matt Conner, who's property borders the proposed parking lot.

A group of neighbors against the parking lot have put up signs denouncing the project.

"It will increase a lot of traffic  basically through our backyards and through our neighbor's side yard," says Conner. "This is a main thoroughfare for children walking to Hutton. We think it needs better review."

Thiel says he believes all of the concerns will be put to rest once the neighborhood sees the final project, which will include decorative landscaping.

"It should look like a residential lot, so I think people are going to find it's going to be quite attractive," says Thiel.

Church officials must still get all the necessary permits and hold a formal hearing with the neighborhood before construction can begin.