Residents in the Hauser Lake area say the plan to add a mobile home park just outside city limits stinks.
The owner of the proposed site, Carl Staley of the Spokane Valley, plans to put in 123 homes on 66 acres about a quarter-mile north of state Highway 53 on Cloverleaf Road. He also plans to put in a 13-acre sewage lagoon just up the hill from the development and a short distance from the city’s drinking water reservoir.
The property developer, J.P. Stravens Planning Associates, said the development would fit in with the surrounding area, including an existing mobile home park nearby.
“(The neighbors) really have no reason to be upset,” Jim Stravens said. “It’s a very attractive community.”
Stravens submitted an application to the Kootenai County Planning Commission for approval of a planned unit development on the property.
Neighbors complain the plan is anything but rosy.
So many neighbors filed into the commission’s meeting last Monday to protest the development that nearly half of the group had to wait outside the room to comply with fire codes. The room holds 150 people.
“We as neighbors are objecting strongly because there is a 13-acre sewage lagoon planned,” said Patty Black, whose home and business are close to Staley’s property.
Staley, the landowner, could not be reached for comment on his neighbors’ claims that the development - along with the sewage lagoon - would increase traffic, cause a decrease in property values and stink up the neighborhood.
Stravens, however, dismissed the concerns.
“We’re doing everything we can to satisfy not only the letter of the law, but also the spirit. We want to keep the neighbors happy,” he said.
J.P. Stravens paid for a study to determine how the development would impact traffic. The Idaho Transportation Department and the Post Falls Highway District approved it.
“He paid for this study,” said Pat Schwafel, a neighbor who lives on Cloverleaf Road. “The study was done in his favor. The study was done in January, which is not an (accurate) picture of our traffic.”
When Marilyn Beach applied to put in a mobile home development on Cloverleaf Road in 1992, the county commissioners told her the infrastructure could handle only 87 more homes instead of the 122 she had requested.
“Nothing has changed since that time,” Beach said. “How could it possibly accommodate 123 more?”
But one of Hauser residents’ biggest concerns is the smell.
“Lagoons stink!” neighbor Marylyn Cordell said.
Avis and Earl Smith live nextdoor to the property where the proposed sewage lagoon would go. If Staley puts the lagoon right next to their fence line, it would be about 100 feet from their house, Avis Smith estimated.
“If the commissioner doesn’t see anything wrong with that, then I’d be happy to take 50 gallons of the stuff and pour it on his lawn and see how he likes it,” Earl Smith said.
Stravens claims lagoons don’t stink.
And the Department of Environmental Quality suggested the sewage lagoon rather than an underground system, Stravens said.
If the lagoon does smell, neighbors say they would have problems selling their homes.
“Whoa, it definitely would have an impact,” said Buck Walker, a real estate agent for Janeck Co. in Post Falls.
Pat Montemayor, a real estate agent for Re/Max River City, contends sewage lagoons don’t stink and wouldn’t cause a decrease in property values. She has sold homes in the Garwood area, where many homes use sewage lagoon systems.
“They don’t smell,” Montemayor said of the Garwood lagoons.
Whether Stravens and Staley are successful in their attempt to create the mobile home park may depend on whether the proposed site is considered a planned unit development or a subdivision.
The Kootenai County commissioners ultimately will make that decision, said Cheri Howell, county planning director.
If the proposed development is a subdivision, then the city of Hauser would have jurisdiction. The city’s ordinances do not specifically mention sewage lagoons, but do forbid land disposal or application of sewage. The city has jurisdiction over all subdivisions within one mile of city limits.
But if it’s a planned unit development, the county has jurisdiction.
“We can’t figure out why it wouldn’t be a subdivision,” said Scott Brown, planning and development code administrator for the city of Hauser.
The state’s, the county’s and Hauser’s codes on subdivisions all suggest the type of development Staley and Stravens propose would be a subdivision, Brown said.
“If it were developed, it would look like a subdivision. It would feel like a subdivision.”
On the other hand, the staff report prepared for the county Planning and Zoning Commission states: “Since no new lots are being created, planning staff’s position is that the application does not involve a subdivision and does not fall under the city of Hauser’s jurisdiction.”
Meanwhile, Black has vowed to make a repeat performance of the large crowd of upset neighbors at the Planning and Zoning Commission’s next public hearing on the development.
It’s scheduled for Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in Room 1-A of the Kootenai County Courthouse.
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo Map of area
MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: Hearing It’s scheduled for Nov. 17 at 6 p.m. in Room 1-A of the Kootenai County Courthouse.