Veterans’ village envisioned

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Hagadone News Network

A planned 73-acre village with cottages to serve veterans and the working poor is drawing neighbor concerns even before an application has been made to Kootenai County.

If approved the residential community would overlook the northeast side of Hayden Lake and include up to 348 small cottages.

According to its website, ChangePoint Northwest Center for Housing — a Spokane Valley-based nonprofit — envisions a village of “tiny cottages” and a few guest cottages on the site off East Hayden Lake and North Triangle 7 roads, across the lake from Sportsman Park.

The nonprofit’s vision also includes a ranch with 48 tiny cottages for vets who need mental healing; an existing lodge that will be a gathering place with three guest suites; an aquaponics farm; a commercial area with a commissary, bake shop, family center, wood shop and health center; a gym, an amphitheater, a boat dock and library.

Janie Dodd Fales, the nonprofit’s volunteer CEO, said the timing of the planned unit development application to the county is contingent upon investors committing to the project.

The property has not been purchased. She said there are multiple possible other sites for the project, but she declined to specify where those are.

"We want to establish faith-based villages for our veterans and others who are working, but they just can’t get ahead," she said.

Kootenai County Community Development Director David Callahan said the nonprofit has had a preliminary meeting with staff about the application process.

Dodd Fales said residents would be screened based on criminal history and other information, and they’d rent-to-own the cottages that would have plumbing and kitchens.

Dodd Fales said Frank Genetti, who assisted the local at-risk community before moving to Arizona, is involved with the project by working with possible investors.

While the project is in its infancy stages, northern Kootenai County residents are already organizing to fight the effort.

Homer Davis, who lives near the site, said the plan doesn’t fit with the rural character of that area and has noise and dust concerns.

He also doesn’t believe the infrastructure could support a project of this size.

"If I just leave the sprinklers on overnight, it’s sucking muddy water the next morning," he said. "Water would be a huge issue."

Davis, an Air Force veteran, said it’s nice that groups want to help veterans, but he believes such villages should be closer to urban areas.

Dodd Fales said many folks who oppose the villages have a NIMBY (not in my backyard) mentality.

"Why would you not want to support people who put their lives on the line for your freedoms?" she said.

Dodd Fales said the nonprofit has other possible sites throughout the region, including near Tri-Cities and northeast Washington. Investors are being sought for all of them.

This nonprofit housing plan is coming forward as another local faith-based nonprofit, Kaleidoscope Community Services, is exploring multiple 5-acre sites, including one in the Garwood area, for a tiny home village.

Kootenai County commissioners recently approved adding transitional housing to some zones in which a conditional-use permit can be sought. County planners are now exploring whether to add the use to all zones with a conditional-use permit.

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