Home boom for Hauser?

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Staff Writer

HAUSER — A 143-acre annexation request that would lead to a subdivision that could have up to 85 homes in Hauser has early momentum in the public hearing process.

Spokane-based Taylor Family Investments, LLC is seeking the annexation southwest of the intersection of Hauser's Kathleen Avenue and Cloverleaf Road along with Hauser Development Code amendments related to density and sewer.

The City Council is expected to hold a public hearing on the requests as early as its meeting May 16 at 6:30 p.m., although it has not been formally scheduled.

"There will be approximately 80 to 85 lots ranging in size from 1 acre to 5 acres with sweeping views of the Rathdrum Prairie and hillsides surrounding Hauser Lake," said Eric Olson, a civil engineer representing Taylor Family Investments. "Natural slopes exceeding 20 percent will be left as open space free from structures.

"We foresee middle- to upper-end homes similar to those that have been built in the Hauser Lake Heights subdivision."

Olson said a minimum of 70 homes would be built.

The property is contiguous to Hauser to the south and east of city limits. It is within Hauser's Area of City Impact. There are 627 acres in the city of Hauser, according to the U.S. Census.

The Planning and Zoning Commission, on a 2-1 vote, recommended approval of the requests on Tuesday night.

Dennis Rogers and Hannah Mihara voted to recommend that the City Council approve the requests, while Brett Haney voted to recommend not approving the requests. Board member Joe McCormick was not present and a seat is vacant, so there was a minimum quorum at the meeting.

About 20 people spoke during the planning commission's public hearing, with most in opposition. Concerns included traffic and possible threats to Hauser Lake, the aquifer, density and quality of life. Some residents posted signs on power poles in protest of the annexation request.

"Infrastructure concerns will be addressed through traffic, groundwater and other studies that the city may ask for in the subdivision process to follow," Olson said. "Density is on par with what can reasonably be obtained under the current Area of City Impact Agreement."

Olson said the proposed code amendments allow the applicant to design the project with a similar density as what is allowed under the ACI Agreement between Hauser and Kootenai County.

"Without the amendments, the maximum density to develop within the city would be several times less, which we feel is somewhat illogical," he said.

Olson said annexing through the city allows Hauser to have sole review authority. If the application was through the ACI Agreement, however, such authority would be split between the agencies, with the final decision made by the county commissioners.

"Our purpose in pursuing annexation is to give the city an opportunity to manage its growth and to allow us to work with the city rather than Kootenai County, which must also manage a large volume of development and building permit applications from throughout the entire county," Olson said. "The decision on our proposal ultimately boils down to whether the City Council wants to be the decision-making body or whether it would prefer to leave it to the county commissioners."

Olson said the project would bring road and water improvements to the city, along with cap fees, tax dollars and application fees.

Kinzo Mihara, an attorney representing the city, wrote a report that stated, in his view, the code amendment proposals are consistent with the city's comprehensive plan.

Mihara said he believes some concerns shared by residents seem worthy of consideration, but they need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis as the current requests deal solely with whether the code amendments are consistent with the comprehensive plan and if the annexation request meets the legal requirements of the city.

Details of the subdivision will be considered during the subdivision application process, he said.

"I received several calls from citizens, but I also needed to express that I can't take a position of pro or con," Mihara said.

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