Dalton Gardens word wars warm up

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By RALPH BARTHOLDT

Staff Writer

DALTON GARDENS — A group of Dalton Gardens residents will file a lawsuit against the city.

The group accuses the city of skirting its own laws when it allowed a small subdivision in a back field on 16th Street without a public hearing.

Jeffery Crandall, one of the members of the group called Save Dalton Gardens, said the group will file its claim within two weeks. Meanwhile, a petition drive to recall the mayor and City Council is about halfway to the required 282 signatures.

While the recall efforts and lawsuit play out, city officials and residents have traded barbs in mailers circulated among Dalton Gardens households.

The 2,400-person community lies between Hayden and Coeur d’Alene on the east side of U.S. 95 and is known for its rural atmosphere and its big lots.

The one-acre and five-acre lots in the city have been maintained in part because town ordinances require residential lots to have public street frontage. Development requests of backyard farm fields without street frontage — often used as agricultural property — have been traditionally denied in Dalton Gardens until a recent 16th Street plan to carve out a hayfield into a family development that includes several lots without public frontage.

Save Dalton Gardens members say the development is illegal. The city, which approved the plan, has fired back.

Opponents say the development flies in the face of the city’s own ordinances. Similar developments, if allowed, could trigger a municipal sewer mandate by the state, they say. Dalton Gardens properties for the most part are on septic systems that sit over the region’s aquifer.

“Our concern, if this goes through, it would open it up for the rest of the city,” said Dalton Gardens resident Jim Kimball. “People are already looking at back acres for sale.”

The group recently sent out a flyer in response to a city flyer denouncing the group’s claims — which was in response to an earlier flyer by Save Dalton Gardens.

Mayor Steve Roberge’s mailer is meant “to set the record straight, and correct the false and misleading claims,” according to a flyer sent last month.

The more recent Save Dalton Gardens flyer uses meeting minutes, ordinances and court filings to make its case, Crandall said.

“We rebutted their allegations by providing direct quotes from city officials and attorneys contained in minutes and court pleadings that fully support the claims we’ve made,” Crandall said.

The group is raising money on its Facebook page for its court fight.

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