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Hayden looks to clean up language in subdivision code

by CRAIG NORTHRUP
Staff Writer | November 24, 2020 1:00 AM

Tools the city of Hayden uses to manage its growth will come up for a public hearing at tonight’s city council meeting.

The public hearing will address subdivision code text amendments recommended by Hayden’s planning and zoning commission in moves designed to streamline the review process. That process will be highlighted by language regarding deflection points along boundary lines.

"In boundary line adjustments, you have your two points you start with on a line,” senior planner Donna Phillips explained. “Generally, landowners will negotiate the rectangular lot that goes between them, and that line slides. One lot gets bigger, and the other gets smaller, in a general square world we don’t live in.”

Phillips said deflection points allow that line to bend. Hayden’s code currently caps deflection points on boundary lines at two, an outlier among other nearby jurisdictions.

“In our research, we found that most codes don’t have that limit,” she said. “Post Falls doesn’t. Kootenai County doesn’t have a limit. This would make us more (uniform) with other jurisdictions.”

The proposed language changes also address an inequity in the code that currently requires residential subdivisions 50 acres or larger to dedicate at least 10 percent of property to neighborhood park space. Community development director Melissa Cleveland said lots 49 acres and under don’t face that requirement.

“That wouldn’t mean subdivisions that size wouldn’t have open public space,” Cleveland said. “Developers always submit plans to us that include open space. This language change just addresses that inequity by eliminating the requirement.”

Phillips agreed, adding that Hayden’s commitment to open space hasn’t changed.

“An applicant will still have to be in keeping with all of the requirements of our comprehensive plan,” she said. “They’ll still have to be in keeping with our parks plan. We’re not getting rid of open space, per se. We still have language that explains where we want to maintain open public space.”

While Cleveland and Phillips both acknowledged some changes to the subdivision language were prompted by an applicant, most of the proposed amended language was in the works for some time.

“Really, this is just to streamline the process for both the city and applicants,” Phillips said. “It would make it easier for the review process, and it would make it clearer for what applicants can and can’t do.”

Cleveland added amending code is something the city wants to do sparingly.

“There are always changes we’re wanting to make to the code, but it’s a timing thing,” she said. “It takes a lot of time. It costs a lot (of time and hours) to codify. It’s not something where you want to just hop in and out of the code very often. So this is an opportunity to clean up the language.”

The Hayden city council meeting begins at 5 p.m. Because of Gov. Brad Little’s modified Stage 2 Order, only a maximum of five additional members of the public can attend in-person. All meetings are available to the public via GoToMeeting. If you wish to submit public comment for the public hearing, email city clerk Abbi Sanchez at clerk@cityofhaydenid.us or call City Hall at 208-772-4411 by 3 p.m today.