Perhaps you live in Riverstone or you head down by foot, bicycle or vehicle to the man-made lake, where a gravel pit used to be, for concerts, the playground, a wedding or a dog walk. The lake has provided a local community gathering place away from the Coeur d’Alene downtown core where it is less about tourism and more about local grassroots.
If you have wandered along the side streets and Centennial Trail, you might have seen multiple small developments corralled by charcoal fences, some locked and gated, others open at the entry drive only. The signature shed roof houses and stockyard-style fencing is by a developer who has a distinct brand that steps away from our citywide Craftsman homes. No criticism, just observation.
Yet as a Coeur d’Alene citizen, walker and cyclist, with and without my dog in tow, I cannot help but lament that with his brand, he has corralled and sequestered all the remaining small lot developments in this area. No other builder but John Stone’s last Tilford Place piece has chosen to privatize and disconnect from their lovely surroundings. With view blocking, sight obstructing, air circulation-choking fencing to 6 feet in height, he has managed to dot Fort Worth style stockyards throughout an otherwise open city planning concept. Riding or walking by lengthy stretches of dark fencing is neither uplifting nor contributing to the Riverstone aesthetic.
Tuesday night, Planning and Zoning decided to approve the final lake facing parcel west of the playground and abutting the pavilion, yet another compressed, charcoal-fenced development with “backyards-?” 10 feet off the fence line. Though very questionable soils and water testing are a concern, the request was approved and passed on to City Council.
If the city approves this, we will have eight square blocks of privatized, corralled residences together that give nothing but taxes to our Lake City. Homeowners can hunker down in their safe place, walled from the paradise around them. Ignoring a prime location with views to the lake and river, not adopting a fine and elegant solution like Belle Rive, the developer chose to only take and not give anything back. He took all the basic PUD codes to the minimum level and gave nothing back to the city or Riverstone. His profit is our city’s loss.
For perpetuity we have a lackluster solution in a premiere location. I hope that my fellow commissioners and city planners can make a serious effort to NOT let this happen in the Atlas development. My voice was not heard by my compatriots but we should use this as a “what not to do” at the Atlas Riverfront parcel. We need to build guidelines that clearly prohibit this type of closed door development.
Where are Carnegie and Rockefeller when you need them?
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Lynn Fleming is a Coeur d’Alene Planning and Zoning Commissioner.