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Chateau de Loire hearing set

After three postponements, the public gets a chance Wednesday to comment on a controversial proposal for a French-themed golf retreat on Lake Coeur d’Alene.

A Kootenai County examiner is having a public hearing for Chateau de Loire, a 500-luxury-home project with a private 18-hole golf course, spa and amphitheater overlooking Moscow Bay.

“I’m happy to get it to hearing,” said project manager Gary Young. “I think we’ve met all the requirements, and I feel good about it.”

Las Vegas-based Kirk-Hughes Development has revised the plan from an initial proposal that was rejected by the county in 2006. As a way to reduce traffic on state Highway 97, it no longer includes commercial features, such as a convenience store, boutique shops and cafes. The company also will build a permanent overpass across Highway 97, which bisects the nearly 600-acre former Flying Arrow Ranch property.

The revised plan would increase the number of residential units in the gated project to no more than 500, a mix of about 270 houses and 230 condos. That’s 25 more units than in the original proposal.

Yet many neighbors and Kootenai County residents remain opposed to the project, which would become the third gated golf retreat on the lake after the Club at Black Rock and Gozzer Ranch.

“Build fantasyland somewhere else,” Harrison resident Jim Whipple wrote to the county, including his concerns about traffic and destruction of the area’s rural culture.

As of Aug. 23, the county had received 83 comments, of which 65 were opposed.

Trish Hanson, of Coeur d’Alene, supports Chateau de Loire.

“I believe it is an important asset to the community, bringing in more tax dollars and revenue to the job industry,” she wrote.

Kirk-Hughes Development made changes to the project after reaching an agreement with the county allowing the company to file a new plan for Chateau de Loire and receive an expedited public hearing schedule. In exchange, the company dropped a court appeal of the county’s denial to 1st District Court, which alleged the commission’s action was discriminatory and unsupported.

The public hearing has been postponed three times from its original April date.

Initially, Kirk-Hughes Development asked for more time for public agencies to comment. Then the county postponed the hearing to give the newly hired planning director time to take charge. In July, the hearing was postponed again because the developer gave neighbors incorrect information in notices of the meetings.

The company has said that the delays are costing money, including $135,000 in expenses ranging from engineering services to a $25,000 forfeited consulting fee. The owner wrote in July that the company has jumped through “unreasonable hoops” and been required to do more than any other developer in the history of the county.

Twice the company unsuccessfully asked a judge to intervene to speed up the process.

Wednesday’s hearing is at 6 p.m. in the Kootenai County Administration Building, 451 Government Way. For more information, call (208) 446-1070.

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