Post Falls considers annexation changes

Boards to discuss process tonight

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POST FALLS - Post Falls is eyeing changes on how it considers annexation requests.

The City Council and Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a joint workshop at 6 tonight at the police station's community room, 1717 E. Polston Ave., to discuss possible policy changes.The idea is to give citizens and developers a sense of what the city's priorities are on growth early in the process so developers avoid spending money on plans if the request is declined and the city boards don't feel pressured or boxed in on a decision if thousands of dollars are spent on planning, city administrator Eric Keck said.

"This (workshop) is an effort to begin conversation on how we change the current way we annex property," Keck said. "It's more of an outgrowth to our current process."Currently, developers make an initial request to the council to apply for an annexation. If the council gives the developer permission to proceed, public hearings and a formal annexation request are held before the planning commission and City Council.

Keck said if developers are given an OK on the initial request and are allowed to enter the public hearing process, funds are typically spent on planning for the project in preparation for the hearings. "If the council says, yes, we'd like to see money and time spent on this so we can entertain it again and developers spend money on it, there's an expectation at the end of the day that you're going to bring me in (with an annexation)," Keck said. "What we don't want is upset developers who would even go as far to litigate if it's not approved."

Such was the case on the 283-acre Foxtail annexation request east of Highway 41. Hayden LLC filed a suit against the city claiming its due process was violated before the council approved the request after turning it down twice earlier. Keck said most developers understand that they'll have to abide by the recently-approved Smart Code if their annexation is approved. The code was developed partially to encourage mixed-use villages and greenspace and to avoid sprawl.

But Keck said the city's priorities on growth tend to get lost in the process. Or, if they are exposed, it's late in the process after developers have spent thousands of dollars."We want to talk about how to make it a better process, so the council doesn't feel it has a gun to its head that says, 'You have to accept this,'" Keck said.

The public is invited to the workshop, but no public comment will be taken.

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