Lawsuit to block high-rise condos dumped

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COEUR d'ALENE - The City of Coeur d'Alene prevailed last week in a lawsuit that was initially filed to stop a high-rise condominium project on the corner of First Street and Lakeside Avenue.

The suit, originally filed in February by the Coeur d'Alene North Homeowners View Preservation, LLC, was dismissed by Judge Lansing Haynes on Sept. 5.

According to the City of Coeur d'Alene's outside attorney, Mike Haman, the suit was originally filed against the city and Colorado-based One Lakeside, LLC, which is planning to build a 14-story condominium at 201 N. First Ave.

Greg Hills, the developer of the project, could not be reached for comment Monday.

One Lakeside initially approached the city Nov. 1 about the proposed building.

The residential building would sit on the corner where the current Mudge building is, and would have commercial space on the ground floor.

The complaint stated that its construction would destroy views of Lake Coeur d'Alene, Tubbs Hill, City Park and the city of Coeur d'Alene for residents who have lived there for roughly 30 years.

After a series of meetings late last year, the city's Design Review Commission approved the project design on grounds that it adhered to the city's downtown building guidelines. That decision was appealed to the City Council on Jan. 14. The city, on advice of its legal counsel, denied the appeal because it only could judge it on design criteria, which it does fit.

Haman said the initial lawsuit was dismissed last spring on the basis that the homeowner's association did not have standing to sue the developer like an individual resident would have.

That dismissal prompted two of the Coeur d'Alene North residents to file another suit asking the court to force the city's Design Review Commission to conduct a written "takings analysis" on the project to determine how much the project might devalue their condos by eliminating their views.

Through their attorney, Scott Reed, Harold and Katherine Damiano alleged the city neglected its own ordinances and state laws that require such a study when formally requested.

That is the suit that was dismissed on Sept. 5.

The suit alleges the defendants failed to apply the preliminary conditions of the city's ordinance and Idaho's Regulatory Taking Act Guidelines.

They asserted their personal property rights included the right to the views. Reed has estimated in previous interviews that property values could decrease by more than $1 million.

The Damianos said they were not seeking damages, but asked the judge instead to have the case remanded back to the city for a takings analysis.

Haman said the judge found that without some final action from the city, such as issuing a building permit, the court could not order the analysis the Damianos were seeking.

"I guess once that permit is filed for, they could bring suit again," he said.

Reed could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

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