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Baptist camp may sell part of river site

Subdivision would raise funds for lodge, remodel

Another patch of the Spokane River shoreline near Post Falls may become homes under a plan to develop part of the Ross Point Baptist Camp.

The Post Falls City Council this week approved a zoning change that would clear the way for a 17-lot subdivision on eight acres on the west side of the camp, at 820 S. Ross Point Road. The camp, owned by the Washington Baptist Convention, would net about $1.6 million from sales of the homes. That would cover about half the cost of a proposed expansion project envisioned by the camp’s board, said Executive Director John Batchelder.

The board wants to add a second two-story lodge, with 18 to 20 rooms, and remodel an office building into a meeting area overlooking the river, he said. About 4,000 people visit the camp annually for Baptist summer camps and private retreats, he said.

“We had more acreage than we were currently using,” he said. “God was providing a way to at this point sell some of the land and do things we need to do. … A lot of prayer and discussion and work has gone into reaching this decision.”

For developer Neighborhood Inc., the subdivision is a “philanthropic-type effort,” started several years ago when board members approached late North Idaho homebuilder Tom Johnson, said his wife, Cyndie.

“We’ve just tried to carry that vision on,” said Cyndie Johnson, a partner in Neighborhood Inc.

Board members do not intend to turn more of the 62-acre camp, established in 1948, over to development, Batchelder said.

Three of the homes and a private park will sit on the waterfront.

“It’s remarkably serene here,” Batchelder said.

“Most of our activities are on the eastern side of the property and close to the river. So we get very little neighborhood input, distraction. On the other side, we don’t distract the neighborhood that much either. There’s a nice buffer zone.”

But some Rocky Point neighbors complained to the City Council that they purchased land bordering the camp under the impression it would remain undeveloped.

The developer of those neighboring home sites told residents the camp would never expand, claimed Realtor and neighbor Sally Schneider.

They would like to purchase a 50-foot buffer from the camp, she said.

The subdivision still must be platted and requires building permits.

Camp leaders also plan a capital campaign, expected to raise $500,000, Batchelder said. They hope to raise funds and start building within 18 months, he said.

Developers requested the zoning change from reserve institution to single-family residential through Coeur d’Alene-based TJV LLC, whose agent is developer Cliff Mort.

Mort had owned Neighborhood Inc. with Tom Johnson, who died in a December motorcycle crash.