Hayden Canyon foes sound off to city hall

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First proposed in Hayden in 2005, the city of Hayden plan is to create a mixed-use neighborhood development called Hayden Canyon, with 1,823 residential units between Government Way and Strahorn Road. (LOREN BENOIT/Press)

HAYDEN — A mixed-use development at the northern edge of Hayden that has been 15 years in the making has drawn the ire of Hayden residents who live nearby.

A week before a public hearing on amendments to a plan for the Hayden Canyon subdivision, neighbors of the 612-acre project have blitzed the city with letters, many of them in opposition to the proposal that first hit the books in 2005.

Bob Fritz, who lives at the Rimrock Estates just east of the proposed development, said in a letter to the city that he moved from California to North Idaho two years ago to get away from sprawl.

“I do not want to see Idaho ‘Californicated’ with high density housing,” Fritz wrote.

He is not alone.

Although today is the last day to send letters to Hayden’s planning department, by Tuesday afternoon the city had already received a boatload of correspondence, city clerk Abbi Sanchez said.

Located between Government Way and Strahorn Road, most of it north of Lancaster Road, Hayden Canyon is a 1,823 residential unit project that would be completed in several phases and include a school, park and community center.

Most commuters on Lancaster Road have taken the forested area bordering the increasingly-traveled thoroughfare for granted.

The subdivision is surrounded by fences, no trespassing signs, and more recently, highly visible yellow placards announcing the May 21 public hearing have sprung up along its perimeter.

The placards have grabbed the attention of newcomers to the area who were likely unaware of the plans for the land, and seasoned locals who crossed their fingers hoping the plans would fall through.

Again.

Plans for the property have moved forward and stopped over almost a decade.

Janis Engwer, of Athol, a retired teacher who moved to Idaho more than 40 years ago from California, said the growth she sees in Kootenai County rivals her former home. She opposes the subdivision mostly because of traffic concerns.

“Please think of safety first and do not approve this or any other developments until something is done about the traffic issues,” Engwer wrote.

Others chimed in that the development would cause a traffic mess, and former Kootenai County Sheriff Pierce Clegg, whose property adjoins Hayden Canyon’s section, had concerns that the development would require increased law enforcement.

Residents who don’t meet today’s 5 p.m. deadline for letters and emails (email to planning@cityof haydenid.us) can attend the 5 p.m. hearing scheduled for May 21 at Atlas Elementary School in Hayden. The hearing will address amendments to existing plans for the land that affect dedicated park land, boundary adjustments, a timeframe and transportation impacts.

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