High-rise receives unanimous approval - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

High-rise receives unanimous approval

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 12:16 am

COEUR d'ALENE - The architectural design for a proposed 14-story residential building in downtown Coeur d'Alene got the green light Thursday from the city's Design Review Commission.

The commission's seven members unanimously approved the plan for the building, stating it meets all city guidelines and procedures. Prior to the commissioners' decision, they received a preview of the legal battle neighbors of the project have been promising to mount.

Harold Damiano, a 24-year resident of the Coeur d'Alene North condos to the north, testified that the commissioners have a duty to protect property rights and values. He pointed out that this duty is listed first in the city's code detailing the Design Review Commission's authority.

"I have no doubt in my mind that these folks have proposed a building that meets the design code. I have no doubt in my mind that it's a great building, but it's in the wrong place," Damiano said. "It's in the wrong place because it does affect property values."

Neighbors opposed to the project say the building will obstruct their views of Lake Coeur d'Alene, one of the reasons they say they purchased their properties.

Damiano told the commissioners the views will be completely blocked for 22 units, and as many as 50 more will be significantly affected.

Damiano stipulated that the commissioners' approval of the design, while acting on behalf of the city, constitutes an administrative action that will result in the taking of private property as defined under Idaho Code, which includes a compensation clause.

"If you (the commissioners) join hands with them in an administrative action, if you join hands, the city is liable if any compensation has to be paid, yes the city," Damiano said. "And we're not talking about dollars and pennies anymore. We're talking about a minimum buck of $5 million up to $10 million."

He compared it to a precedent-setting 1988 Idaho "takings case" involving Coeur d'Alene Garbage Service, a company owned at the time by Damiano, and the city of Coeur d'Alene. In that case, state Supreme Court justices ruled that the city could not, by annexation, take business, a property interest, away from Coeur d'Alene Garbage Service and give it to another service provider.

"You're talking about taking one high-rise view and giving it to another high-rise," Damiano told commissioners.

Damiano's testimony drew a round of applause from the roughly 45 members of the public who turned out for the commission meeting.

City attorney Warren Wilson said, following Damiano's testimony, that city staff and commission members asked him to attend the meeting because they were concerned "that maybe we would start to drift off of design criteria."

Wilson said city code specifically prohibits public comments on matters other than design. The matter of whether the action constitutes "a taking" is irrelevant to the design review panel, he said.

"We have obligations to everyone. We have to protect neighboring property rights. We have to protect the property rights of the developer. We can't just look to one side or the other," Wilson said.

The city's planning and building codes incorporate the city's property rights decisions, Wilson said. Those decisions were made seven years ago, he said, when the downtown design and zoning guides were revised, and addressed views and vistas. The city's obligation is to ensure design applications comply with city codes, Wilson said.

"If we try to hold up the developer, the developer has an honest to goodness chance to sue us for taking. Other than that, there is no taking. That's the bottom line," Wilson said.

Last month, Greg Hills, principal of the Colorado-based real estate development firm, Austin Lawrence Partners, said the company is prepared to handle a court case if one arises.

The commission's decision can be appealed to the city council, but the council, like design review, can only judge whether the proposal fits the city's building guidelines.

Following the meeting, Damiano said the neighbors plan to take the matter to court.

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  • IdahoJoey posted at 5:11 pm on Sun, Nov 4, 2012.

    IdahoJoey Posts: 344

    The mayor or her son had nothing to do with it. The committee has a predetermined set of rules to follow and if the project meets all of those requirements, they simply cannot turn it down. Those rules have been in place (as I understand it) since the resort was built.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 9:24 am on Sun, Nov 4, 2012.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    Of COURSE it was approved. I believe the mayors son is making money on the deal. ;)

  • Ziggy posted at 7:41 pm on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1295

    The only reason I go downtown is to buy or take for repair some jewelry to the only two jewelers I trust.
    A friend of mine told me she hasn't been downtown in a decade. I think it's mostly Spokane people who, for some reason, like to sit on sidewalks. Go figure. It's not Paris. Not really. And with all the highrises, it isn't even Coeur d'Alene. They kinda look like big "P" symbols.

  • Close Enough posted at 11:57 am on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    Close Enough Posts: 134

    Harold Damiano is 24 years old? Ha. For some reason I doubt that a 24 yr old bought Cda garbage, in 1974.

  • IdahoJoey posted at 9:35 am on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    IdahoJoey Posts: 344

    And the crops are looking good!

  • straight up posted at 8:27 am on Sat, Nov 3, 2012.

    straight up Posts: 967

    Who cares?

    It's downtown - the land of ultimate LCDC power and the hoity-toities they order the mayor to bring into town.

    I had to go to a meeting at the library last month. First time I've sniffed downtown for nearly a year.

    Those few hundred that love downtown - enjoy it.

    You reap what you sow.

  • Jill Heine posted at 11:40 pm on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    Jill Heine Posts: 408

    right on chouli - but it took a decade to get the current rules passed. Who in power or city department would resist change? Can you get rid of them in time. Recent arrivers will vote for more change that you don't want. Your vote no longer counts chouli!

  • chouli posted at 4:54 pm on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    chouli Posts: 1294

    money is the holy grail...

  • Ziggy posted at 2:32 pm on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    Ziggy Posts: 1295

    And that's what the re do of McEuen was all about: attracting more and better high rises so that the high rises block out the high rises and pretty soon the lake will be totally blocked out except for the top floor of the highest.
    And CdA--which had such charm? Gone already isn't it?
    Just another California Condo Paradise.

  • Cody Wiench posted at 12:37 pm on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    Cody Wiench Posts: 355

    Good. It is absolutely ridiculous we are even entertaining CdA-North-resident concerns. Uh, Hello? Do you think your monstrosity of a building blocked anything?? At least this is an attractive building.

  • IdahoJoey posted at 11:29 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    IdahoJoey Posts: 344

    Good point. CDA North is one ugly building.

  • wheels1 posted at 9:17 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    wheels1 Posts: 484

    Were other people's views taken into consideration when CDA North was built.Damiano,Crow et al can't have it both ways.

  • IdahoJoey posted at 9:09 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    IdahoJoey Posts: 344

    Build them all! Let them bring their money and spend it here. The result will be jobs.

  • chouli posted at 8:36 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    chouli Posts: 1294

    Hmmm, wonder how many of those Coeur d'Alene North condo owner still think "decline to sign" was a good idea?? LOL

    When does the process to CHANGE the current building codes in downtown CDA to prohibit any more high rises from being allowed downtown begin ? What process does it take to initiate changing the existing codes?
    Better jump on this asap because you know there are others with the same goal of building their highrises on the property they own that fronts Front Avenue...
    City council, what is the next step to Save Our CDA ??

  • mister d posted at 7:42 am on Fri, Nov 2, 2012.

    mister d Posts: 1531

    Good, another view blocking high rise. CDA, just another big city town, nothing special. Lost it's charm years ago.

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