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County postpones development votes

Sat., Sept. 16, 2006, midnight

The Kootenai County commission will make a decision Sept. 28 on two proposals to amend the county’s growth plan to allow mega-developments in the countryside.

After nearly seven hours of testimony Thursday night from a crowd of 300 people packed into a North Idaho College conference room, the commission decided to postpone its decision so it had more time to review the facts.

The three commissioners also wanted time to visit the Powderhorn Bay property on the east side of Lake Coeur d’Alene. Seattle-based Heartland wants to change the growth plan to allow for perhaps three luxury golf courses with a total of 1,350 homes overlooking the bay. The company said the land is no longer viable for timber or agriculture and that’s why the comprehensive plan needs amending. The commission will visit the property Sept. 25.

The other proposal is by Spokane-based Riverside Development to transform a former cattle ranch south of Athol near the Silverwood Theme Park into Rickel Ranch, a town that would largely consist of homes priced at $150,000.

In May, the county planning commission unanimously recommended denial of both requests to change the comprehensive plan, which is the foundation of land-use decisions.

The commission said it’s premature to amend the planning guide while it is undergoing a complete overhaul, a process that is likely to take 18 months.

For more information, call the county Planning Department at (208) 446-1070.


Former DEQ head may join old boss

Stephen Allred, former director of the state Department of Environmental Quality, has been nominated to be assistant secretary of the interior for lands and minerals, under new Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, former governor of Idaho.

Idaho Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo introduced Allred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week with praise; the panel has yet to vote on the nomination.

Craig, who chaired the confirmation hearing, said, “I have found Steve to be direct, decisive and knowledgeable when it comes to energy and natural resource issues.”

Crapo said Allred’s “long experience shows a commitment to the principle of collaboration in solving environmental challenges – a skill that is unfortunately all too rare.”

A former Morrison-Knudsen Corp. executive and a former Idaho state water resources director, Allred worked with Kempthorne to make Idaho’s DEQ a full, Cabinet-level department of state government. In 2001, he was named one of Governing Magazine’s public officials of the year.


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