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City approves zone change for Tapley Cabinets property to light manufacturing

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | December 17, 2020 1:00 AM

A property on College Way between Mill and LaCrosse avenues will switch from residential to light manufacturing, this after the Coeur d’Alene City Council voted to approve a zone change to enable a storage facility for a local cabinetmaking company.

The property will serve as an addition to Tapley Cabinets. Some neighbors expressed concern to council about a growing footprint in what is a largely residential area.

“As of this letter,” Peter Kriz wrote in opposition to the proposal, “the planning commission may not realize that Tapley Cabinet Works is one of only two LM-zoned lots in the City of Coeur d’Alene south of I-90, and the only one on a residential street. This finding begs the question: Why us? Why would the city dare convert our little residential street into a light manufacturing zone?”

Neighbor Linda Buck concurred, adding that College Way often becomes congested with pedestrians, including children.

“I had no clue that the cabinet company owned the land next to my house,” Buck wrote. “I have observed ‘moving trucks’ in and out of the neighborhood, apparently loading and hauling cabinets. I have no history how the cabinet business was able to acquire a permit in the first place, and this is definitely not an ideal location for this type of business.”

Council president Woody McEvers expressed concern, as well, that the adjacent property, which is also owned by the same family, could one day follow suit, thus growing the facility into something beyond residential.

“I’m fine with giving them a shot at [the single property],” McEvers said. “But it’s that next piece or two. Are they willing to condition that to stay R-12?”

Councilman Dan English said it was unreasonable to hold the proposal that reached council with hypotheticals on neighboring property, regardless of ownership.

The Tapley Cabinets team proposed the storage and office space even keep a residential-looking facade, with a front that looks like an ordinary house. English said the longevity of the company, which has been in the neighborhood since 1946, should be considered.

“It would be one thing if it was already just a residential neighborhood,” English said. “‘Wow, all of the sudden, you’re going to create something new.’ But this has been there my whole life. And it was there before it was even (in) the city of Coeur d’Alene.”

Drew Dittman with Lake City Engineering, representing ownership, said the Anderson family behind Tapley Cabinets and its 12 employees has always strived to be good neighbors, and that having an internal storage facility would actually reduce traffic, as the company would take fewer trips to off-site storage units for materials.

Councilwoman Christie Wood said the company’s history made Tuesday night’s decision a challenge.

“It’s really difficult … to go from R-12 to light manufacturing,” Wood said. “But, of course, supporting small businesses is incredibly important to us, too. Obviously, they’re a third-generation [local company], obviously, a part of Coeur d’Alene for a long history. It’s a tough balancing act.”

In the end, the zone change passed 5 - 1, with councilman Dan Gookin the lone dissenting voice.

“This is about a zone change,” Gookin said. “This has nothing to do with Tapley, even though they’re sitting on the property right now. I hear fantastic things about them, and I’ve seen their work. It’s very good. But it’s not about them. It’s about a zone change. One of the things I swore to do on City Council is protect established neighborhoods. Changing an R-12 into light manufacturing does not protect established neighborhoods, so I will oppose this.”