Blackwell Island is coming to town as the Coeur d’Alene City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to include the property in the city limits.
Council members praised owner Duane Hagadone for his plans to clean up the eyesore marina that currently welcomes travelers entering town from the south on U.S. Highway 95 and for the increased tax dollars the property will add to city coffers.
Councilwoman Deanna Goodlander applauded the public trail that will follow the shore of the Spokane River, giving people more access to the waterfront.
“I wish it could happen tomorrow,” she said before the council voted 5-0 to annex the Marina Yacht Club property and allow commercial zoning.
Councilman Ben Wolfinger was absent.
The annexation won’t become final until the city negotiates an agreement with Hagadone that covers annexation fees and conditions such as improvements to the water and sewer systems.
City Attorney Mike Gridley said negotiations are close to complete and that the council must vote on the final agreement.
Hagadone spokesman John Barlow said the company has already agreed to pay annexation fees – although no dollar amount was disclosed – and it will pay for a backup water system and a study showing the future needs for city sewer south of the Spokane River.
Hagadone wanted the city to annex the 78 acres, which includes the man-made island and portions of the water that stretch out into the mouth of the Spokane River and the Blackwell Island channel, so it could use city services such as water and sewer.
The company wants to expand the marina, adding 29 boat slips, and build a new sales center.
To allow for larger boats, Hagadone is simultaneously asking for state and federal permits to dredge the channel.
The company would use the excavated silt and soil to fill the east side of the island, raising its elevation above the 100-year flood plain and making it suitable for building.
The “village-style” business park would include condos, shops and offices.
In June, the city Planning Commission approved a limited design planned unit development, which will allow Hagadone to build at least four buildings on the site of various heights up to 110 feet – about eight stories.
The limited design PUD is a planning tool that lets the city know where Hagadone would construct the buildings without knowing the architectural specifics.
Some people are worried that the dredging would stir up heavy metals that are in the soil and potentially harm water quality, in addition to fish and wildlife.
Last week the Idaho Department of Lands rejected Hagadone’s dredging request, citing insufficient details about the project’s impact on water quality and fish habitat.
The lands department said it had to make a decision even though it hadn’t yet seen the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality’s report on water quality.
The DEQ released the draft report Friday and the public has until Aug. 15 to comment.
Barlow said he will then ask the lands department to reconsider its decision.