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More prairie homes possible

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | August 20, 2020 1:00 AM

Rathdrum P&Z OK’s 238-acre proposal

RATHDRUM — A proposed subdivision for housing and businesses got a boost Tuesday when the Rathdrum Planning & Zoning Commission unanimously forwarded the proposal to the City Council.

Included is an amendment to Rathdrum’s Future Land Use Map and a 238-acre annexation. The map is a tool city officials use to help ensure positive development practices.

The amendment would change the designation of an area about half a mile south of the north Meyer Road and Lancaster Road intersection and north of west Wyoming Avenue from “Agricultural” to “Transformational.”

The transition would allow the annexed 238-acre property to be used for homes and businesses in a shared impact area with Post Falls and Hayden.

Bluegrass Development LLC, applicant, proposed to zone 178 acres of the property for low-density residential, 43 acres as high-density residential, 12 acres as commercial, and 6 acres as parks and open spaces.

The property is owned by Erik Henrickson and six siblings.

“Since the county banned burning of lands, their family was unable to use their farm, which reduced their amount of profitable crops,” city administrator Leon Duce said. “Now his parents have passed, and he is getting older. Of the seven surviving children, one couldn’t farm the land and produce enough for the other six, so they chose to sell it for development.”

Duce said the plan presented to P&Z had several components for managing growth, including the right-of-way dedications on Meyer Road and Wyoming Avenue.

He said there are no specific plans yet for the number of houses or businesses.

City staff is making the final changes before releasing the report for public comment, and Duce anticipates the council will discuss the development in September.

This annexed area will aid in providing additional land for “future development of residential housing with neighborhood commercial services to meet the growing housing demand of Rathdrum,” the application said.

According to Duce, there were 184 single-family dwelling permits approved in Rathdrum in 2018, 119 in 2019 and more than 170 so far this year.

To support growth, Duce said the city installed a new sewage lift station, well water system, and made transportation improvements.

“A lot of this spike in the growth has shifted this year,” Duce said. “There has always been a housing demand, but we haven’t had enough tradesmen to do the job. When COVID hit, and Washington closed down all residential construction, tradesmen came to North Idaho for work, which increased the community’s building capacity.”