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Copper Ridge plans in limbo

Thu., Sept. 16, 2004, midnight

Putting homes on Canfield Mountain isn’t what the city wants, Coeur d’Alene planners said about why on Tuesday they unanimously denied the controversial Copper Ridge housing development.

“There were too many questions,” Coeur d’Alene Planning Commission Chairman John Bruning said Wednesday. “We like to see those questions answered. Nobody wants to hear ‘We aren’t sure.’ “

Questions over the number of homes, access to the proposed 22-acre city park and where a service road would go to a 500,000-gallon water tank on the hillside topped the Planning Commission’s list during the hearing that lasted until 1 a.m. and packed City Hall mostly with neighbors protesting the proposal.

The commission also disliked that Copper Ridge would be a gated community with narrow streets and no sidewalks. Bruning said that Quest Development wanted too many variances, showing the commission that the project didn’t fit in with current development and zoning rules.

Quest attorney Steve Wetzel said the developers are disappointed and are unsure whether they will appeal the decision. If appealed, the proposal would go to the City Council. Quest could also revise its proposal and present a new project. Quest should make a decision by next week, he said.

“The neighbors did a very good job of making the whole issue very confusing,” Wetzel said. “Obviously we were disappointed. It was an awfully nice plan.”

Quest proposed changing the zoning on 49 acres at the end of Shadduck Lane to allow for 52 homes on the lower lands. The remaining 22 acres would go to Coeur d’Alene for a park with hiking and biking trails. The developers also wanted to put a water tank on the hillside to help provide better water pressure to about 700 homes on the city’s north side.

This was the second time Copper Ridge has been denied.

The City Council in June rejected Quest’s initial plan to build 27 homes on the lower nine acres and developing the remaining 40 acres in the future, perhaps adding another 47 homes on the hillside.

Wetzel said if Quest once again revises the plan, it will probably stick to the current zoning, which would allow one home per acre. That means there would be no city park and perhaps no water tower.

“They were just trying to shove it through,” said Jay Walden, a neighbor who is part of Canfield Mountain Alliance. The opposition group picketed outside City Hall on Tuesday before the meeting started and presented the commission with 886 signatures against Copper Ridge.

Most petitions also indicated they are willing to pay higher taxes so the city can start a program to buy open space.

Walden said the next step for Canfield Mountain Alliance is meeting with city and Kootenai County officials to get such a program started. He said Boise and Missoula have successful open space conservation programs worth modeling.

The group is interested in buying Copper Ridge along with the 40 acres that adjoins it to the east that hooks into the current trails into public forest lands.

Quest has an option to buy the Copper Ridge property from the Coeur d’Alene Seventh-day Adventist Church. The church initially planned to build a school on the land but is opting for a more central location.


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