By BRIAN WALKER
COEUR d’ALENE — A landowner and developer who is seeking a zone change on farmland near Fighting Creek that has caused concern from neighbors said Friday that he isn’t planning a major subdivision for the site.
“I’d like six 10-acre parcels and one 20-acre parcel,” Robert Grossglauser Jr. told The Press. “I don’t want anything smaller than 10 acres. My objective is to let six of my kids (live on the 10-acre parcels). We love that area so we want to keep it as natural as possible.
“I want to be kind to the neighbors. Hearing their comments has given me a lot to think about.”
Kootenai County Hearing Examiner Joan Woodard heard public comments during a 2.5-hour meeting Thursday night on Grossglauser’s zone change request for about 84 acres along Frost, Rew and Elder roads in southern Kootenai County from agricultural to rural.
About 75 people attended the meeting. Some voiced or wrote about water quality and quantity concerns. Others had concerns that the zone change could lead to homes that would hurt the rural nature of the area.
“There’s not enough water in this area,” wrote Les Larsen, who lives on Frost Road. “I only have two GPM (gallons per minute) here.”
Neighbor John Whelan added: “The development suggested by Mr. Grossglauser would adversely affect the water tables in the area, the natural drainage and cause Elder Road to become a crowded thoroughfare.”
Grossglauser said several people called him after the hearing upset, thinking his plans will ruin their rural lifestyle.
“I can’t begin to tell you how many calls I’ve gotten that I’m a big bad developer from California who wants to ruin Idaho,” he said. “I do not want to change the rural nature. That’s my home and my kids’ home.”
Both agriculture and rural zones allow for a minimum of 5-acre lots, but Grossglauser said he doesn’t intend to carve up the properties that much.
Woodard took the testimony under advisement and will forward her recommendation to county commissioners in as soon as a week. Commissioners will consider the recommendation during another public hearing.
If the zone change is approved, another public hearing process will be held on Grossglauser’s plans to lightly develop the properties.
Grossglauser said he bought the site on the Coeur d’Alene Tribe reservation in 2015 simply to allow himself and six of his kids to live on. That remains his plan, he said.
“Seven parcels on the 84 acres — that’s what I’d like to get to,” he said. “I will never have more than seven.”
Grossglauser, a developer who also serves on the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission, said he wants concerned residents to know that he doesn’t want to build 40 homes on the site.
“If they’d be telling me that, I’d be mad, too,” he said.
He said he first bought property in Kootenai County in 1995 and moved here permanently from Placerville, Calif., in 1998.
“I have lived in Idaho longer than I lived in California,” he said.
Grossglauser said he purchased the property near Fighting Creek before he started serving on the commission, then was asked to apply to serve on the board due to his background as a builder and developer.
“It was never intended for personal gain,” he said of his service on the board. “I don’t need to be on the panel for personal gain. I did my due diligence to make sure my plans were in compliance with the comprehensive plan.”
Grossglauser said he checked with both the Community Development Department and the commission as he proceeded with his zone change request to ensure there wasn’t a conflict of interest.
The commission acts as an advisory board to the county commissioners and offers recommendations on land-use requests. The commissioners make the actual decisions on the requests.
Grossglauser, who farms the site, said he is currently living in an RV on the property and having a home built at Rew and Frost roads. A son is living in a manufactured home on the site on Elder Road. Those are the only existing homes on the site.
Grossglauser said the Coeur d’Alene Tribe submitted a comment about concerns for water quality in Latah Creek. He said he’s sensitive to those concerns and will consider them moving forward.
“I want to be a good neighbor,” he said. “I want good quality water there, too.”
Jennifer Fletcher, Coeur d’Alene Tribe spokeswoman, couldn’t be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.
Grossglauser said information that he has received indicates that six septic tanks on the site may be better on the environment than fertilizer. He said the property isn’t great farmland due to the moisture and gets just one cutting of hay per year off it.