UPDATE: Late Tuesday, the city planning commission in Coeur d’Alene denied two requests by the developer of the River’s Edge apartment project. Commission members unanimously denied the developer’s request for a special use permit that would allow the project to move forward with an R-34 designation, a use that allows significantly greater residential density than the regular residential zoning designations within the city. The commission also denied a proposed limited design planned use development. Commission members did, however, approve a zoning change from R-12, a lower density, residential use, to C-17, a mixed-used designation that allows more residential units per acre and some commercial uses. The special use permit and PUD denials were made “without prejudice,” which allows the developer to reapply to the city for the permit and PUD, but not for a year.
More than 200 attend long meeting about proposed development along Spokane River
By RALPH BARTHOLDT
COEUR d’ALENE — Before a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200 people Tuesday in the Community Room of the Coeur d’Alene Public Library, engineer Todd Whipple laid out the attributes of a proposed 870-unit apartment development along the Spokane River.
The city’s planning commission meeting began at 5:30 p.m. with other items on a long agenda, and by 10:15 p.m., the crowd had dwindled to about 110 and the commission had not yet deliberated or made a decision on proposed zone changes, a special use permit and a limited design planned unit development.
The planned River’s Edge development along Seltice Way adjacent to the city’s Atlas Mill site will provide 27 percent open space and a 40-foot easement along the river for the length of the development, Whipple said.
Despite building five-story rental units along the river, the buildings will appear to be two-story structures as seen from the higher elevation of Seltice Way, he said.
In addition, the structures will be divided by view corridors and the project will be set back from the river, allowing the public waterfront access.
“It’s not that this project doesn’t have an impact. You can’t build a project and not have some kind of impact,” Whipple said.
The developer under its current zoning model can build apartments along the river, as well as commercial retail and heavy industry developments, Whipple said. Instead, River’s Edge has opted to work with the city of Coeur d’Alene to preserve the riverfront if its rezoning application is accepted.
If the commission accepts the proposal, the city’s greenbelt would run from downtown through Riverstone along the waterfront at the Atlas site and River’s Edge sites.
“I don’t think there’s a better use of the site,” he said.
Area residents who crowded into the meeting room were concerned about the development’s impact on traffic and on having five-story apartment complexes in such a pristine riverfront environment.
Commissioner Jon Ingalls agreed that the green space along the river — set aside in perpetuity if the plan moves forward — would be an asset, but he wondered why the high-density apartments were necessary.
“They are huge apartments,” he said.
Dozens of citizens signed up to speak to the commission, although many left by the time the meeting reached the public comment period.
Roger Smith was one of several who offered opposition to the plan.
“There are a lot of things in this package that are not in the best interest of the city,” Smith said, referring to the developer’s requests.
He’s against proposed docks, he said, and a parking garage.
“There are no real view corridors,” Smith said.
He said he would be willing to give up the 40-foot easement, if the proposal to change the zoning to R-34 did not occur.
The meeting continued after press time, before any decisions were made by the commission. Any further developments will be reported in Thursday’s paper.