Annex denial rare in Post Falls

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By BRIAN WALKER

Staff Writer

POST FALLS — The Post Falls City Council's latest annexation decision was unlike most predecessors.

The City Council has generally been supportive of in-fill, or pocket, annexations in recent years.

However, on Tuesday night it unanimously denied a 10-acre request that had an eye on medium-density, multi-family housing on the north side of 12th Avenue about a quarter mile east of Highway 41. The decision came after outcry from neighboring residents who had traffic and safety concerns.

During the meeting, Mayor Ron Jacobson said he couldn't recall another annexation request that had been denied in recent years. The council's decision drew an ovation from neighbors concerned the proposal would only increase traffic concerns in the Highway 41 corridor.

"This is not the time to annex and zone that parcel as multi-family," resident Len Wallace said, adding she understands growth is inevitable.

With improvements to the Highway 41 corridor likely still at least two years away, those in opposition asked the council to refrain from the possibility of creating more congestion.

Sandy Young, who represented property owners Chuck and Lynn Anderson, said the request conforms with the city's comprehensive plan and future land-use map.

She said the applicants brought an annex request for a future high-density project forward three years ago that was denied and they were asked to bring back a less-dense proposal. Hence, that was the reason for the latest request.

Young told the council the request was for annexation only at this time and the type of housing and development plan could be bantered later. She agreed a traffic analysis should be done, but at the time of development and not annexation.

Young said multi-family was the only land-use option that penciled out financially for the Andersons. Jacobson said the city often hears that argument, but he offered the city's point of view when that arises.

"It's about what makes sense," he said. "It is not our responsibility to make sure investments are profitable."

Council member Joe Malloy said he understands the residents' traffic concerns.

"The Highway 41 corridor is still being built out, especially on the west side," he said. "Let's pump the brakes a bit and see where we are at (later)."

Council member Linda Wilhelm said she would be more apt to consider the annex request after improvements are made in the corridor.

"I know we need housing, but at what cost?" she said.

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