Thursday, March 30, 2023

MY TURN: Coeur Terre: Let’s take our time

by KEVIN McCLELLAND/Guest Opinion
| March 4, 2023 1:00 AM

The Coeur Terre project has raised concerns about the impact to neighborhoods directly east — Orchard Lands, Woodside, Indian Meadows and Northshire (OWIN for short). Folks living in these neighborhoods will lose the sense of “in town/country” we’ve all become accustomed to. But while the skyline will undoubtedly change from farm to homes, we should not be forced to give up/cede our neighborhoods in the process.

The fundamental issue is traffic. Fundamental questions for the council and the developer — How will these people travel? How would they visit the KROC and Winco? Get to a movie at Riverstone? Go to Kootenai Health?

As a frame of reference, the neighborhoods referenced above make up roughly 750 homes (OWIN). I’m not sure on the exact number of dwellings proposed in Coeur Terre, but several articles reference 4,500 living units. So, six times the amount of density to the existing neighborhoods to the east — 600% is a lot more folks. Not two times as many, but six times as many. Yikes!

I understand that the developer recently changed some east/west access points, removing Arrowhead, but maintaining access points along Nez Perce and Appaloosa. Let’s be clear, any connection to Nez Perce and Appaloosa to the east will DRAMATICALLY change these existing neighborhoods — as well as those around the golf course.

As a recent editorial pointed out, folks in OWIN routinely use the golf course community streets to get to the Kroc/ Winco/Lowe's. Can you imagine what impact six times that number would look like? — We are talking about sacrificing all of these neighborhoods.

If Nez Perce and Appaloosa are granted access, what will Atlas look like? It’s already too busy south of Kathleen, but one would imagine that stoplights would be needed at both Coeur Terre access points. With lights at Nez Perce and Appaloosa, all of the streets in between will see a dramatic uptick in side street traffic — with folks using side streets and ultimately Arrowhead to get around traffic lights.

Is it possible to build 4,000 homes without access to Nez Perce and Appaloosa? Yes! Punch through access on Hanley (no neighborhood impacts) and Seltice (no neighborhood impacts). Step 2, Huetter Bypass. Direct access to Interstate 90 would mitigate significant east/west traffic. In fact, it’s hard to imagine Couer Terre existing without direct access to I-90. Seltice is already under duress with new residences around the Atlas Waterfront and projects directly west. The Huetter bypass is our last best chance to alleviate congestion throughout the region.

I understand we need to build more homes — I understand that we need more schools. I am asking council members to continue to be patient and thoughtful with these decisions.

P.S. I suppose it’s reasonable that many of the 4,500 residences might need to travel to Post Falls. What does this mean to Highlands neighborhoods? Poleline? If people work in Spokane, imagine how they might get to I-90. How many homes will eventually pop up on the west side of Huetter? Again, the bypass is a must. Given Huetter is the Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls boundary, both municipalities should see the need to coordinate for a successful outcome.

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Kevin McClelland, of Indian Meadows in Coeur d'Alene, is a 34-year Kootenai County resident.

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