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  • Writer's pictureErin B.

Kootenai County Community Development 8/10/23

The board of commissioners met for the Community Development meeting to deliberate on three ongoing development requests:

The public hearings for The Club at Rock Creek Townhomes and Diagonal Estates had been completed prior to today so the commissioners were given a quick presentation for each by a county planner and the commissioners approved both developments.

The CDA Reservation Re-Zone, however, was a bit longer because they were continuing the public hearing from July 13; not everyone was able to give testimony and it sounds like some of the commissioners were unable to read all the emails that have come in.

The Club at Rock Creek Townhomes (formerly Blackrock North)

The land currently consists of 6 duplexes that the applicants are requesting to be split into a townhome designation so that each side of the duplex can be sold individually.

As we found out during the CDA Planning Commission meeting, a duplex is a 2-unit building on a single piece of land. When the plat is sold then the entire duplex is sold as one.

For a townhome, or twin home, although the building consists of 2 units, each unit can be sold individually with their tiny plat of land. In the case of The Club at Rock Creek, each townhome will be on a lot 0.125 acres large.

This development went through preliminary approval back in 2017, and because the applicants met every stipulation to get this development approved, the commissioners approved this development.

Diagonal Estates

A twenty-five acre plat is making the request to be divided up into 5, 5-acre plats to be sold off. A new cul-de-sac road has been built to accommodate the 5-acre plats, and as the applicant has met every stipulation to get this development approved, the commissioners gave their final approval.

CDA Reservation Re-Zone Public Hearing Continuation from July 13, 2023

The commissioners allowed a continuation of the CDA Reservation Re-Zone Public Hearing for one person to testify. As a reminder about the rezone, The CDA Tribe asks that about 25,000 acres of Tribal land be downzoned from Rural to Agriculture, and change the minimum lot size from 5 acres to 20 acres. The main argument for the rezone was that the Tribe would be able to "preserve agricultural land, timberlands, open spaces, natural resources and the existing rural character of the southwest portion of Kootenai County."

Currently Rural zones allow for subdivisions with a minimum of 5-acre plats, Agricultural only allows for a minimum of 20-acre plats, effectively eliminating subdivisions on that land.

After the public hearing portion was closed, Bruce Mattare began the deliberation portion of the hearing by reading a statement entitled, "Do No Harm," which he put on his website with added context. He believes the most important part of this downzoning that no one is talking about is the water rights on the land. What happens to the wells of current land owners if new developments pop up and the wells go dry?

Mattare asks for the Board to "consider allowing for a voluntary rezoning for those property owners on the reservation who wish to opt into it and instruct Community Development to develop a new Code Amendment to restrict subdivisions on the Reservation to no less than 10 acre lot sizes for a minimum of two years, preferably three, so that the water studies can be completed in the area and the community and Board have a chance to review and establish a way to ensure that any new development WILL NOT, and I repeat, WILL NOT, affect existing homeowners’ wells."

Bill Brooks agrees.

Because the commissioners agree on this new voluntary rezone suggestion, it triggers another public hearing to hear the public's input about this option.

The motion was made to set the next public hearing for this topic on October 12, 2023. At that hearing the public will get to weigh in on the opt-in rezone suggestion, water issues and what the county can do to protect existing wells, and county staff will bring a draft Code Amendment that will limit lot sizes to no less than 10 acres for a temporary period of 3 years.

The motion passes unanimously.

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Tiffanie Espe
Tiffanie Espe
Aug 11, 2023

Agricultural zone is the only zone designation in Kootenai that does not allow for ANY subdividing. I have been following this rezone closely as we have several families in that area who are unable to divide their property. Yesterday was the first time I have even heard of water concerns. The developers are not affected by this zone change, the property owners are. These are long time Kootenai residents, some of which had plans to divide for their children and grandchildren. The woman who spoke in tears at that hearing represents those residents who are being forced to give up their ability to do what they want with their land. A 5-acre lot is a huge piece of property, an…

Erin B.
Erin B.
Aug 11, 2023
Replying to

The Tribe has been in water rights litigation for that exact topic for the past 5-6 years. Northwest Property Owners Alliance has been fighting them for years and although they won the judgement, the Tribe is still fighting it and dragging things out. I don't have an opinion about whether or not downzoning is right, but the water issue needs to be resolved first.

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