Despite hundreds of mailed-in notices opposed to the project, the Kootenai County commissioners voted 2-1 this week to approve a new RV resort intended to serve visitors to Silver-wood Theme Park.
The officials added mitigating conditions to the seasonal Ravenwood RV Resort, however, like a reduced unit density and a required quiet time at night.
"It looked like they complied with our ordinances," said Commissioner Jai Nelson on Wednesday of the project applicants. "I think it's goingto be a good project for the area and it will support Silverwood and tourism in the summer months."
The commissioners approved a conditional use permit for the resort on Tuesday, after a hearing continued from last week to allow for a site visit.
Although neighbors had written to the county with concerns like safety issues and noise, the elected officials agreed with the hearing examiner that the resort is an allowable use on the 17.2 acres on Pope Road, a mile south of Silverwood.
"This has some economic benefits and some tourism benefits which we also want to promote," Nelson said, noting that Silverwood is visible from the resort site.
The commissioners did attach conditions to the project, including a required quite time between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. The resort must also build a vegetative buffer around the property and a 6-foot fence on top of that.
The officials also dropped the requested density of 18 cabins and 144 RV spaces. The resort will be restricted to a total 114 units overall, which the applicants can divide into RV spaces and cabins.
"Hopefully we mitigated some of the concerns of the neighboring properties," Nelson said.
Jeff Priest, the Hayden contractor pursuing the resort with Bob Thomas of Carson City, Nev., was elated by the commissioners' decision.
"It sounds great," Priest said, adding that he and Thomas aim to open the resort on May 1, 2014.
The lower density requirement is a disappointment he can live with, he said. The project had already been designed to include a buffer, he added.
Priest reiterated that the resort is intended to house Silverwood guests and will be open from May 1 to Sept. 30.
The resort, which will include a pool, playground, store and tennis court, will hopefully be a refuge for tourists to "come and relax and have a great family experience," Priest said.
Hopefully that will be true, said Carol Eachon, whose property borders the resort site.
After writing to the county with criticism for the project, Eachon said she hopes the buffer and fence will prevent resort guests from bothering her family's horses and cows.
The restricted density also helps alleviate her worries about noise and other issues, she said.
"I think there are some pretty good restrictions on it," Eachon acknowledged, adding that she still has worries about impacts on local property values. "(Priest) said he would keep it quiet and keep it nice. He said it's going to be a top-notch location, and I hope they stick to that."
Commissioner Todd Tondee, who voted against approval, could not be reached on Wednesday.
Priest said he doesn't expect neighbors will be as aggravated as they've suggested.
"We're going to be a great neighbor, they will see, once this gets going," he said.