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From land use to raccoons

by MADISON HARDY
Staff Writer | May 20, 2021 1:07 AM

The Post Falls City Council had a busy meeting Tuesday night with actions ranging from a land application to licensing a raccoon. 

Approved unanimously in the consent calendar, the 717-acre land application is part of a project the city of Post Falls has been developing for over two decades.

After the 2000 Post Falls Wastewater Master Plan identified a need for an alternative to discharging the city's treated wastewater in the Spokane River, the city began working with landowners to obtain land for future application. By 2013 the city had adopted an updated water reclamation master plan, which also identified a need to diversify discharge options to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements. 

Located north of the future Bodine Avenue, east of Chase Road, and west of Highway 41, the property sits within the Rathdrum Prairie. 

"Due to the availability of the property on the prairie, the city was able to select this as an alternative with a lower cost than if river discharge had been the only option," a city press release said. 

Designated under public reserve zoning, the property includes a 70-acre school site owned by the Post Falls School District and 647 acres saved for open space and the land application of recycled water. The city's public reserve zone explicitly allows "governmental, public utility, educational, recreational, cultural, water reuse, agricultural and environmental use" only. 

The land will also continue to be used for agricultural purposes, specifically for crops that use the most water per acre, the release said. The city anticipated land application to begin sometime in the 2030s. 

The council unanimously approved a 9-acre annexation of single-family residential property on the southwest corner of the East 16th Avenue and North Greensferry Road intersection. Described as an "infill development," the property in Greensferry Glenn Annexation is expected to develop into 28 lots. 

According to Scott McArthur, a representative for the applicant, the development would start soon after final approval.

"You know there are people out there that talk about responsible growth," Councilman Alan Wolfe said. "This is it. This is small acres, low impact, low density. There are already houses around it, and the infrastructure and transportation are already there. So I would definitely be in support of this."

Possibly making Post Falls history, the City Council unanimously approved the license of Randi Micek's pet raccoon, Ace. 

"I've been with the city as a councilman and a mayor for almost 23 years, and I have never seen a request like this," Mayor Ron Jacobson said.

Per City Code 6.08.020, it is unlawful for any resident to own a "wild or exotic animal" without the written authorization of the council, city clerk Shannon Howard pointed out Tuesday evening. A couple of weeks before the meeting, Howard said Micek requested to license Ace after recently moving to Post Falls from Nebraska. 

"She's had this raccoon for about a year now, and it's become part of their family," Howard said. "She wants to be a good pet owner, and she approached animal control about licensing the pet."

Though the Post Falls Animal Control department regularly licenses cats and dogs, she said, it is the purview of the City Council to regulate the keeping of wild and exotic animals — like a raccoon. Howard said Ace is fully vaccinated and is under local veterinarian care. Post Falls Police Chief Pat Knight said he has not yet discussed the implications behind licensing a raccoon but expected Ace would be held to the same safety standards as other domesticated pets. 

"I personally appreciate the fact she's even thinking about following the rules," Knight said.

Other actions made by the council Tuesday night:

• Unanimous approval of the fiscal year 2021 budget amendment ordination.

• On a 6-1 vote, Wolfe dissenting, the board approved the 5-acre Single Family Residential Lassan Annexation located north of Prairie Avenue between Howell and Chase Road.

• They unanimously approved extending the Post Falls Senior Center land lease to the Post Falls Food Bank.

• The council received an update on the Tertiary project by project manager Andrew Arbini.

• City staff discussed limiting future public hearings.