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Densifying Hayden will intensify problems

by MATT ROETTER/Guest Opinion
| June 8, 2021 1:00 AM

As a 40-plus year resident of Hayden, who raised three daughters in this town, I am concerned about Hayden’s population explosion.

I am a member of the Hayden City Council. I do not like what has happened to our small town due to explosive growth. Traffic is snarled, schools are overcrowded and locals are being forced out of the housing market.

If you are also upset, and totally frustrated with the increase, it is time to voice your opinion at a Hayden Town Hall Meeting. It will be held on June 10 at 6 p.m. in McIntire Family Park, next to the Hayden City Hall.

At issue is Hayden’s 2020 Comprehensive Plan, of which the main goal is accommodating the population explosion by “Densifying” Hayden.

The Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization (KMPO) estimated that Hayden will over double in population in 20 years to 34,955 people. The Comprehensive Plan is a plan to accommodate the explosive growth. In other words, by changes in zoning, it will allow more people to be placed into a smaller area. I do not support that kind of growth in Hayden.

Who is going to pay for “Densifying” Hayden? The Hayden taxpayers will with higher taxes and higher fees. As stated publicly by Mayor Griffitts, residential growth does not pay for itself and I have documents to prove that fact.

I do not support forcing current Hayden residents to pay for newcomers moving to our town. The impact that the growth has on Hayden should only be paid by developers and those moving here. Impact fees must be placed onto newcomers and these fees should actually cover the full cost rather than a very small portion of the impact.

The effects of “Densifying” Hayden will create more traffic congestion, more school crowding, more government regulations, increases in crime, increases in taxes and fees, and expose the Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer to a greater risk of contamination due to storm water runoff, the only drinking water source for over 500,000 people.

I love the recreation opportunities we have in our area. However, the quality of the recreational experience has greatly degraded due to the population explosion and in some cases it is gone.

Think about the lakes, rivers, campgrounds, hunting areas, special fishing spots, Honeysuckle boat ramp, hiking trails and beaches that are overrun with people and you avoid them or cannot even access them because they are full. By “Densifying” Hayden, the problem just simply worsens.

The city does not have enough money to fix the traffic congestion caused by the population increase. By “Densifying” the future new growth, the problem intensifies exponentially.

If you don’t like the current traffic just imagine how bad it will be with implementation of the 2020 Comprehensive Plan. If we cannot afford to pay for the current problem, how in the world can we fix the future problem? No one has an answer to that question or their answer is to raise property taxes. I will not pay one more cent in property taxes or fees so that more people can move to Hayden.

It is impossible to close Hayden’s gate to newcomers and I am not a proponent of shutting residential building down. There are thousands of Hayden residential lots that will have homes erected in the near future. Just one newly developed Hayden subdivision alone is approved for 1,500-plus residential units on 610 acres. It will add approximately 3,750 newcomers to the city of Hayden.

By densifying Hayden it will only intensify overwhelming problems created by the population explosion. My hope is that every Hayden citizen will attend and contribute your opinion of Hayden 2020 Comprehensive Plan of “Densifying” at the Hayden Town Hall meeting. I hope to see you there and to shake your hand for attending.

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Matthew Roetter is a member of the Hayden City Council.