Micron’s Decision Brings Sigh Of Relief From Advocates Of Slow Growth

The news that Micron won’t be coming to North Idaho is bittersweet.

True, our job-thirsty and tax-dry economy could use a major river of revenue. The $1.3 billion expansion from Boise would have provided a $200 million payroll for 3,000 to 4,000 people and would have paid about $32 million in property taxes.

However, to many of us, Micron would have been too much, too fast. Our roads, utilities and schools wouldn’t be equipped for what predictably would have been an influx of up to 16,000 people.

Most importantly, most of us who have moved here in the past 15 years did so for what exists, not what doesn’t exist. We came here for the beauty, peace, recreation and special people. We came to avoid pollution, traffic and pavement.

We know growth will happen, but it needs to ease in as the area properly prepares for it. True, we need more than tourist-based, lowincome employment. However, companies that provide this are moving here - often because of the area’s original amenities.

Also, having one business that has tenfold more employees than any other employer can be dangerous for an area’s economy. If that company suffers, everyone suffers, such as Seattle in 1970 when Boeing dimmed the lights.

Yeah, rejection always hurts, especially in the short run. Many people worked hard to lure Micron. In the long run, though, many of us are relieved.

While I’m in the “Stop progress!” mode, I’ll whine about the city of Coeur d’Alene’s planned auction of a two-acre plot surrounded by the revamped triangular intersection of Fourth Street, Kathleen Avenue and Honeysuckle.

It’s been appraised at $92,000 and $98,000; a minimum bid would be in the $93,000-$95,000 range.

Although it’s zoned R-12 (allowing 20 multifamily units), the wooded parcel is a needed natural buffer between residences east of Honeysuckle and the busy Coeur d’Alene High School and Kootenai County Fair areas west of Fourth. Crowding multifamily housing into the plot would create a hazard.

The topic will come before the City Council at 7 p.m. April 4. Let’s support a green belt.

Boasting a reputation so positive that it hardly needs to advertise, Shari’s Restaurant opened last week between Shopko and Wild Waters along Highway 95 in Coeur d’Alene.

Seating 120 customers in booths, the restaurant “caters to the community,” according to spokesman Matt Corbin in Portland.

He described the 4,100-square-foot store as “a 24-hour, full-service, non-alcohol family restaurant that 51 percent of the customers visit twice a week.

“We don’t like to be on restaurant row,” he said of the location, which requires customers to drive around the Shopko parking lot. “Our opening-week business was above projections. In one year we’ll serve 250,000 meals and 500,000 cups of coffee.”

Growing 20 percent in sales and the number of stores in the past 10 years, Shari’s will have 82 stores in the Northwest by the end of ‘95. Debbie Beasley manages the Coeur d’Alene store, which has about 80 employees.

The commercial fringe continues to creep north.

Two multitenant buildings totaling 35,000 square feet will be built at the southern end of 35 acres the owners plan to develop north of Wyoming Avenue (and Ziegler’s Building Center) between Government Way and Highway 95. The plan is for 14 or 15 tenants in spaces ranging from 1,200 to 4,800 square feet.

California transplant Ted Kearn said his family (including wife Dee, parents Ed and Dorothy and brother Eric) plans to build the structures before leasing them, probably more to fabrication companies than retail.

“It’s been our experience that people want to see what they’re getting before they sign the lease,” Ted said. The family’s California connections included similar marketing.

They originally were recruited by Jobs Plus to bring their furniture factory to North Idaho. They still may.

Construction should start in the spring and be complete in the fall. The long-range plan is to develop the entire parcel with light industrial and some commercial businesses, Ted Kearn said.

“It depends on what’s needed,” he said. “The town has to absorb these as we put them up. Fifteen years is a rough number for how long it’ll take.”

The company name is B.K.L., Inc. The Kearn family originally is from the Northwest, Ted said.


The following fields overflowed: CREDIT = Nils Rosdahl The Spokesman-Review

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