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Huetter Bypass zoning overlay delayed

by ELLI GOLDMAN HILBERT
Staff Writer | October 31, 2021 1:06 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — Efforts of the grassroots "No Huetter Bypass" group led the Kootenai County Planning Commission on Thursday to postpone the zoning overlay process on the Huetter Bypass project.

The overlay would have prevented homeowners from making modifications to their property for about two years. All properties within the footprint of the Huetter Bypass project plus an additional 100 feet on each side would have been affected.

“Simply put, all properties affected would have been placed in further distress as these folks would not have been able to improve their homes or land,” said NHB organizer Brian Rogers in an email.

About 39 letters were sent to David Callahan, director of Kootenai County Planning. Callahan and nine members of NHB attended the public hearing.

The Huetter Bypass project is still moving forward, but this small win brings a breath of relief to those affected, Rogers said.

Callahan on Friday said he requested, and the Planning Commission agreed, to postpone scheduling the zoning overlay until an environmental assessment is complete.

He added that the delay ultimately has little to no effect on the project.

The Idaho Transportation Department has taken over project management from the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization, Callahan said.

Rogers said Callahan approached him after the meeting to discuss the “fair market value” that theoretically will be paid to homeowners for the loss of property when the bypass goes in.

“I think the commissioners are as shocked about this as everyone else,” Rogers said.

Though this project has been in process for close to 20 years, residents have continued to object, he said.

“We don’t need to be listened to, we need the direction of the project to change,” Rogers said.

There's a long road ahead as ITD moves forward with the environmental assessment, which could take up to two years to complete.

“U.S. code requires that an EA be conducted and that they receive a finding of no significant impact from the Federal Highway Administration,” Callahan said.

Positive momentum and continued community involvement are crucial, Rogers said.

“The support of the community has been fantastic. The community has been adamantly against this project for many years and they are sick of this behavior,” Rogers said. “But this isn’t only about us, it’s about all of Kootenai County and even the rest of the state.”

Info: nohuetterbypass.com