COEUR d’ALENE — A petition to recall the elected officials at Dalton Gardens City Hall has gathered more than 420 signatures and has been turned over to the county for verification, while a lawsuit against the city has been simultaneously filed in First District Court.
Jeffery Crandall, a Dalton Gardens attorney and the spokesperson for the movement to recall Dalton Gardens city officials, said he expects the recall petition to be accepted by the county, which has 15 days to ensure the signatures are those of legitimate city residents.
“We need 311 signatures to certify the recall and have it placed on the ballot at the next election,” Crandall said.
Once the signatures are accepted, Mayor Steve Roberge and four City Council members — Denise Lundy, Joe Myers, Jamie Smith and Scott Jordan — will have five days to resign or face a recall election.
Roberge said, for now, he and the council members are waiting to see the outcome of the signature count, and that the city of 2,400, pressed against Canfield Mountain between Hayden and Coeur d’Alene, is running as it usually does: Quietly.
“I’m just disappointed,” said Roberge, who was a council member for 16 years before being elected mayor three years ago. “We have a great council. They are very active and doing great things in the community.”
Crandall and the group called Save Dalton Gardens don’t agree with the sentiment and have filed a lawsuit accusing the city of breaking its own building laws when it allowed a family with long ties to the community to subdivide a parcel of land within the city, which is contrary to building codes.
Crandall and his group accuse city administrators of making a backroom land development deal with the Streeter family, allowing a four-home development on a 5-acre meadow at 7079 N. 16th St.
“They have kept this deal under the radar entirely,” Crandall said.
City code prohibits home building without public street frontage, and the development requires a private road be built into the field to reach at least two of the lots, clearly an ordinance violation, according to the group that says the deal will set a precedent in the city known for its big undeveloped, almost rural-type lots. If the Streeters are allowed their development, members of Save Dalton Gardens think other property owners will follow suit and build cul-de-sac neighborhoods where hayfields once buffered residential areas.
“This really does open the floodgates,” Crandall said.
Roberge and the City Council deny the accusations, claiming they cut a deal with the Streeters to stymie a lawsuit the family filed against the city because of its tight development codes.
“The City Council made the best decision for the city of Dalton Gardens,” Roberge said.
Kootenai County officials could complete the signature count anytime between now and the second week of December. After that, the mayor and council will have to decide how to proceed. If any of them chooses to resign, the vacancy would be filled by appointees selected by the governor.
Roberge has not seen a complete recall effort like this one in his 20 years as a city official.
“I have never heard of anything like this before,” he said.
Crandall agrees it is unusual.
“We don’t know if anyone has ever successfully recalled an entire body of city officials before,” he said.