Crews will break ground today on a 1,100-acre expansion to the area’s original exclusive golf community after the Kootenai County Commission approved Black Rock North on Thursday.
Yet the commission unanimously rejected Chateau de Loire, a similar golf retreat pitched for the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Commissioners said state Highway 97 can’t handle the increased traffic, and the project doesn’t fit in the rural area that is reserved for timberland.
Commissioner Katie Brodie said there is nothing to show that the Chateau development “will do anything but make a bad situation worse.”
The county has already approved several large developments along windy and dangerous Hwy. 97, Brodie said. Also, the commission indicated last winter that it would start to look at each new proposal with a “critical eye,” she said. Chateau would add another 475 homes, she added.
The 600-acre Chateau de Loire property, a former cattle ranch, is near the already approved Gozzer Ranch Golf and Lake Club, another megamillion-dollar private golf community.
Chateau de Loire spokesman Brian Bills said Kirk-Hughes Development Co. of Las Vegas will continue to work for approval of the project overlooking Moscow Bay. But Bills wouldn’t elaborate on the company’s options or whether it would appeal the decision to district court.
“We have made no determination,” he said. “We are considering all of them.”
Although disappointed the Black Rock expansion was approved, neighborhood groups applauded the commission’s rejection of Chateau. The county’s public hearing on Chateau drew about 350 people, and nearly 200 people attended the Black Rock hearing.
“The most impressive thing was people’s voices were heard,” said Barry Rosenberg of Kootenai Environmental Alliance.
Rosenberg said he agreed with the commission that there were many problems with the Chateau application and that even the county planning staff opposed it.
As for Black Rock, Rosenberg said it’s another gated community.
“It will contribute to the ongoing erosion of the rural nature of Kootenai County,” he said.
Dick Edinger, chairman of the East Side Highway District, said he doesn’t see how the commission could approve Gozzer Ranch but reject Chateau. He said problems with Highway 97 are the Idaho Transportation Department’s responsibility, not potential developers’.
Black Rock owner Marshall Chesrown said he expects the first golf ball on the new 18-hole course by July 2008. He said the expansion also will include a new clubhouse, equestrian center and 325 additional homes, but that it isn’t a separate club from the original Black Rock.
“It’s going to be a unique project over 1,700 acres,” he said.
Currie opted not to vote on the Black Rock expansion because his family owns property in the Rockford Bay area, and he could financially benefit from the project.
Commission Chairman Gus Johnson voted in favor of Black Rock but first clarified that he was not “bought off” by Bill Radobenko, who owns a construction company that has worked on Black Rock. Radobenko was seen putting a box in the trunk of Johnson’s car after the Black Rock hearing earlier this month.
Johnson said it was old horseshoes that he intends to give his father, who welds the metal into sunflower lawn ornaments.
“I’m sure everyone in here has had a good chuckle over it,” Johnson said. “I didn’t.”
Johnson ended his explanation by saying he wouldn’t be “swayed by a box of used horseshoes.”
At that, many of the 100 people in the audience laughed. Johnson didn’t.