Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Commissioners delay decision on joint powers deal

Staff Writer | August 6, 2020 1:00 AM

Kootenai County commissioners delayed a decision on a joint powers agreement with Post Falls until Monday after they were hesitant to initiate an urban renewal district in a tight economy.

In a special meeting Tuesday, Post Falls asked Kootenai County to assist in creating an urban renewal district regarding a new construction for Project Drive.

The transportation company approached the city after purchasing 67 acres south of the solid waste department. Project Drive is relocating its trans-loading facility from Washington for train and truck shipping routes.

City administrator Shelly Enderud said Post Falls is annexing the properties into the city, but because the area is partly controlled by Kootenai County, it must take part in the URD.

According to Enderud, the project is hoping to get on-site within the next year and stay at that location for two to three years. Due to the large annexation and timeline, the city wanted to begin taking action on the URD before 2021.

“The problem with an annexation this large is that it can take longer than it takes to make the urban renewal district,” Enderud said. “It would be fine for us to create the URD next year, but we’re trying to meet the two-to-three-year outline for Project Drive.”

The costs for the project are unknown. However, Enderud estimates the total infrastructure expenses will likely run about $45 million.

Post Falls recently submitted a $21.6 million building grant for the project to the Federal Highway Administration. Enderud said the city should hear back by Sept. 30.

“We have so many people complaining about growth not paying for itself,” Commissioner Leslie Duncan said. “Now we have an area that wants to grow but they’re going to form a URD, so it’s not paying for itself.”

Around the site is residential zoning to the east and industrial to the west, with rapid growth expected over the next few years.

“This area is really attractive for industrial development and trying to find large lot industrial development is difficult,” Enderud said. “Most of what you see in the area are smaller five and 10 acre lots. By making improvements at Pleasant View Road and Prairie Avenue, and at Highway 53 and Pleasant View Road, it opens the area up for additional truck and transportation traffic.”

Commissioners Bill Brooks and Leslie Duncan were not thrilled with the proposed URD.

“I’ve said it before, I’m not a real big fan of urban renewal districts,” Brooks said. “I think it sounds like a good project with minimal impact, but I’m going to wait and study it some more.”