PRIEST RIVER — Not so fast, said Priest River Mayor Jim Martin at Monday’s City Council meeting. Questions about the proposed River View Ridge development will have to wait until its developer Fred LeClair gets further into the project development process, said Martin.
As outgoing city planner and public works director Greg Snow pointed out in a memo, the conditional use permit, planned unit development, and preliminary plat submitted to the city did not contain sufficient information for city staff or residents to make detailed questions such as those about traffic impacts and impacts to the sewer and water systems. Local residents packed city hall Feb. 21 to inquire about the project along those lines. At that meeting, Martin asked patience of the residents, indicating that at a later point those questions could be answered.
“I felt bad because we couldn’t answer those questions,” he said. But as Martin and Snow explained, those questions will have to wait until LeClair proposes more specific plans.
“We don’t know until they bring the final plat” what they want, said Snow. “They have indicated a density, and we can make a preliminary decision based on that,” he added. Oldtown city planner Bryan Quayle said “There will be questions hanging out there but in order to have answers we must give preliminary approval.”
“We have to approve it to get into those questions. Those were good questions. We don’t have answers,” said council member Greg Edwards.
In the meantime, the city council unanimously approved LeClair’s request for a conditional use permit, his planned unit development, and his preliminary plats.
The mayor and council members said that the public would have the opportunity to ask detailed questions at a future public hearing, which will take place at a date to be determined when LeClair proceeds further with the planned development.
According to documents submitted to the city thus far, the development will include around 32 apartment units, as well as five duplexes and 20 single family home lots. The 11.2 acre proposed development is bordered to the north by the cemetery, to the west by the cemetery and Third Street, to the south by vacant forested land, and to the east by Larch Street and existing homes. The project narrative contends that “The existing natural habitat on the lower reaches of the property will be preserved for small animals and native bird life.” Along the same lines, it says that “Curbs, gutters, and sidewalks will not be used to preserve a more natural setting. A meandering foot trail will provide a pleasant route for pedestrians.”
It also claims that “At build out, the anticipated traffic is less than 500 trips per day” which will enter and exit via Third Street between Glidden Avenue and Rivenes Avenue. “Although this traffic will become a perceivable increase in daily volumes, it will not affect the Level of Service for any neighboring roadways and intersections. In other words, the existing streets and their configuration will easily accommodate the increase in traffic.”
Martin indicated that after the public testimony concluded Feb. 21, some residents gave council member Stewart a letter. Martin said that letter wasn’t distributed to the whole council because it came in after the public testimony had closed. That letter will be held until the next public hearing on the subdivision. Martin said he didn’t know what it was about and hadn’t read it, but the people who gave it to Stewart had spoken out with detailed questions at the hearing.
With Snow’s departure, Martin said “It’s been public works by committee lately.” The city has advertised the public works director position Snow recently departed, as well as a maintenance worker position. Quayle will become a contracted planner in the interim. Quayle worked for the city for a long time, said Martin. “Bryan is good to do this until we can figure out what the needs are.” He’ll be on a seven-month contract that runs through the end of the fiscal year, with the option for either party to get out with a 30-day notice.
As part of the process to receive a grant for downtown revitalization, Martin said representatives from the city are being required to travel to make a presentation either in Boise in April, or in Coeur d’Alene in July. The advantage of going to Boise earlier would have been to get the work started before next winter, said Martin. However, because of the time it takes to bid out projects, the city will probably be waiting until next spring to get the work underway regardless of when and where they make the presentation. “I don’t know if spending $1,200 to go to Boise is worth it if we’re still going to be waiting to do construction in spring,” said the mayor. Council member Edwards recommended waiting to make the presentation in July and saving the city’s money.
Chief Drew McLain said there are a few moose running around town, and a few complaints of people feeding them to keep them in the area. “Pay attention when you’re walking kids to the schools.” He added, “Be aware, watch out for the moose, and don’t purposely feed them.”
Also, McLain recently completed the five-month long School of Police Staff and Command College at Northwestern University and was given the council’s permission to travel to Illinois for the graduation. The trip will be funded from the chief’s travel and training budget. He graduated with 22 other police captains from across the United States with a 4.0 GPA after putting in 20-30 hours each week on weekends and nights, on top of his job and family duties, he said.