OPINION: Stop ‘up-zoning’ Cd’A’s heritage neighborhoods

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Kudos to Ms. Thruman for working to save the historic home on Government Way from destruction (Coeur d’Alene Press, July 2). How many of these heritage homes will be lost before measures are taken to preserve these pieces of Coeur d’Alene history?

Recently, I sat on the front porch of a stately old home in the historic Garden District and was informed by the owner that his home — and all the others on his street — are zoned R-17 — allowing 17 units per acre. Really? In this special historic neighborhood? This means the homes could be demolished and replaced by multi-family apartments or triplexes and 4-plexes, as developers apply their quick-buck conversion tactics. There goes the neighborhood character!

Wrongly zoned historic neighborhoods need to be protected — at least by correcting their zoning to preclude higher density development, and maybe even by establishing “historic zones” with special protections for older homes.

Recently this lucrative “up-zoning” practice has been taken to extremes with a rash of requests for conversions from R-17 to a very high density R-34 zoning (34 dwelling units per acre). Most have been approved — the most recent in an older residential neighborhood on Government Way. In addition to resulting in high-rises that are visually inappropriate for established residential neighborhoods, they will have big impacts on neighborhood streets and schools.

The good news is there’s an opportunity at hand to control all this.

The city is embarking on an update/rewrite of the 2007 Comprehensive Plan, as they’re required to do periodically. This will entail full review of current land use and zoning designations. The overall effort will be under the banner of “Envision CDA,” and the city has recently contracted with a consulting firm to lead the update effort.

City staff has promised there will be plenty of opportunity for public input in this process, so plan to speak up as this effort unfolds, and help direct this roadmap for Coeur d’Alene’s future. In the process, we can also honor its past — through the preservation of well-established and historic neighborhoods.

As a stop-gap measure, the “We The People of Coeur d’Alene” group has requested a moratorium on all R-34 re-zones — at least until the update of the Comprehensive Plan is completed.

• • •

Roger Smith is a

Coeur d’Alene resident.

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