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Ashworth annex approved

by Brian Walker
| December 22, 2010 8:00 PM

POST FALLS - Ashworth is moving on.

The Post Falls City Council - on a 4-2 vote Tuesday night - approved an annexation for the 108-acre, multi-use project at the northwest corner of Spokane Street and Prairie Avenue.

The project will include 450 single-family lots, 200 multi-family lots, 6 acres of open space and 3 acres of commercial/office. A bus stop and network of trails are also planned. Buildout is expected to take seven years.

Ashworth will offer homes in the $100,000 to $150,000 range and construction on pre-sales may start as soon as March.

"I'm generally not in favor of annexations, but I'm in favor of the Smart Code and the ability of some of my employees to buy a home," council member Skip Hissong said, adding that projects under the new Smart Code encourage mixed uses and walkable communities.

Hissong, Scott Grant, Linda Wilhelm and Kerri Thoreson supported the proposal. Grant originally floated tabling the request, but supported it when a vote was taken. Council members Betty Henderson and Ron Jacobson opposed it.

Jacobson said he has concerns with there being between 600 and 1,000 vacant lots on the Post Falls market and an uncertain wastewater future with pending litigation.

"My biggest concern is the timing (of the project)," Jacobson said.

Coeur d'Alene-based MCD Properties, which consists of principles Chuck Lempesis, John Magnuson and Tom Anderl, said the project will provide jobs and affordable homes, both needed in this economy.

"People need a place to live," Lempesis said. "In today's economy, what sells is entry-level housing. We want to give back to our community and we're going to do exactly what we say we're going to do."

Several people spoke both for and against the request during the two-hour hearing attended by about 100 people.

Post Falls resident Brett Bowers said first-time homebuyers and retirees deserve affordable homes just as he was given the opportunity years ago.

"They're our neighbors and they invest in this community," Bowers said.

He also likes that the developers are local and have a strong reputation of building quality projects in the area.

Developer Bill Radobenko said the project would help him sell his more expensive lots in the Fieldstone project in Post Falls.

"We can't meet the market that this project can meet, but that activity will help us sell our product as more people come to the city," he said.

But others said the project is too dense for north of Prairie and wouldn't fit in with existing larger surrounding lots and farmland.

Post Falls resident Barry Rubin said he doesn't believe another large development is needed amid a housing slump.

"It's simply not needed and not warranted at this time," Rubin said.

Anderl said, under the city's Smart Code, the project can change with lot sizes as the market changes.

"We're trying to get down to a price point where people have been stepped over," Anderl said.

The council allowed the project to enter the public hearing process on July 1, 2008.

The formal annexation request was delayed until the city finished its Smart Code.

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