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inside My Turn: Preserving Rathdrum's small-town feel

by By VIC HOLMES/Rathdrum Mayor
| October 23, 2021 1:00 AM

On the night of the candidate forum in Rathdrum some of the candidates running for city council positions were quick to blame the current elected officials for the rapid growth within the City of Rathdrum. All of the candidates stated that growth was going to happen, and you can’t stop it.

There were comments from some of the candidates that the city should only allow large lots within the city moving forward. A majority of existing homes built in Rathdrum are on medium to small lots. This helps to give Rathdrum its small-town character.

It is interesting that most of the candidates live in medium to small lot housing. One of those candidates lives in a subdivision with the smallest lots in town and argues only for larger lots. He has also stated that he wants government to control the number of homes that could be built within the city. Telling people where they can live, what they can do with their property and when they can do it. Is this the kind of control we want government to have in Idaho?

Candidates talked about wanting their children and grandchildren to be able to come home, but they also wanted to make sure that all the new lots are larger lots. Those are traditionally the most expensive homes that young families with children cannot afford to buy.

Comments were also made that the current elected officials have not listened to the residents in Rathdrum. Our Comprehensive Plan that was just adopted in September shows the exact opposite.

Rathdrum took two years to make sure we were listening to residents. In our survey to the residents in the spring of 2021, residents stated they would like to see less density within our city. The Comp Plan recommends the removal of R-3 (small lot) zoning. The residents asked for more buffering green space along the highway, more walkable pathways, mixed-use style of businesses, small scale commercial areas, no self-storage along the highway and the comp plan has all of it included in the plan.

Over and over the residents have asked that Rathdrum keeps the small-town feel. Within Rathdrum we have a balanced mix of large, medium and small lot areas. These areas allow families of all ages, sizes and financial abilities to live in Rathdrum.

In the past five years the city has annexed 1080 acres of property into the city. The majority 58% (634 acres) zoned commercial and industrial in the hopes of creating more jobs for those that live in Rathdrum.

We have businesses looking at and preparing to move to Rathdrum, including the corporate office of Kootenai Electric. 436 acres have been zoned residential, 40% (176 acres) zoned R-1 (large lots), 36% (156 acres) zoned R-2 (medium lots) and finally 24% (104 acres) zoned R-3 (small lots) with a restriction that no more than 10 acres could be used for apartments and the remaining 94 acres would need to be single family dwellings. The remaining 10 acres are donated by the developer for a new elementary school as the residents have requested.

One of the wonderful things about Rathdrum is the small town feel where people help people. We get to know our neighbors and we work together. People of all ages, financial situations and family sizes live in Rathdrum because they love it here. Do we really want a future where the only new growth allows for those that have super high incomes to afford a home?

If so, then where will our kids and grandkids live when they grow up. Where will the workforce live? They will not be able to afford those types of homes moving out from Mom and Dad’s place, coming home from technical schools, college, or the military.

Please look carefully at all candidates before you make your choice. I would encourage all residents to get out and vote.


Vic Holmes is the mayor of Rathdrum.

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