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Rathdrum OKs 238 acres for homes, commercial

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | September 28, 2020 1:08 AM

In a vote decided by Mayor Vic Holmes, the Rathdrum City Council approved annexing 238 acres into the city last week for future residential and commercial developments on a 3-2 vote.

The 238-acre property adjacent to the Brookshire development is a mile south of the Meyer Road and Lancaster Road intersection and north of Wyoming Avenue.

Bluegrass Development LLC, the project applicant, proposed to zone 178 acres of the property at Low-Density Residential (R-1), 43 acres as High-Density Residential (R-3), 12 acres as Commercial (C-1), and a six-acre donation for parks space.

There are no specific plans for the number of houses built or businesses that will enter the area. However, the engineer with Bluegrass Development has planned to limit the number of multifamily units and said they have no intention of building duplexes.

According to Rathdrum staff's comments in the annexation application, the city, and North Idaho in general, are experiencing some of the fastest population growth in the United States. 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.

Bluegrass Development has also been the spearhead of the Brookshire subdivision on Meyer Road and agreed to not develop housing on the annexed area until construction of Brookshire is 85% completed.

Some members of the audience spoke in support of the annexation, including the landowner, Carl Henrickson, who said it is no longer profitable after controlling the property with his family for years. Citing many instances of financial hardship the land brought to his parents, Henrickson urged the council to approve the annexation.

"The 15 years my dad spent on the Rathdrum Prairie were pretty hard years," Henrickson said. "My siblings and I range in age from 59 to 73, and we just started thinking it was probably about time to see a return on this land."

Lakeland School District and the Rathdrum Area Chamber of Commerce also expressed their written support of the annexations, citing its potential to boost economic stability and the 10 acres Bluegrass Development plans to use for future school areas.

Two audience members expressed their concerns about how the development would affect the quality of life and the roadways. City Council members were split on their support for the annexation, causing Holmes to break the tie.

"I think many people come to our community to get away from the concrete jungle of Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls," city councilman Mike Hill said. "They retreat from those larger communities and enjoy being in a smaller community. I don't think this annexation is the appropriate time to annex into our city considering all of the others that still need to be completed."

Holmes, who has watched the Rathdrum Prairie change his whole life, said that while he isn't a fan of growth either, known annexations like these are essential for the community's development.

"I probably hate growth as much as anyone, but I realize that it is part of the city and part of its future," Holmes said. "If we had drawn that line in the sand before you were here, where would you be living now?"

Council members Hill and Steven Adams voted against the annexation, while members Darrell Rickard and Paula Laws were in favor.