Post Falls to adopt ‘SmartCode’ development design
As one of Idaho’s fastest-growing communities, Post Falls is looking to the future with a focus on the design of future development rather than use.
The city has adopted “SmartCode,” with a few details to be worked out such as putting the code into ordinance form. Colin Coles, senior planner, said Post Falls is the first community in the Northwest to adopt SmartCode, a method of developing land that he said is similar to a planned unit development (like Riverstone in Coeur d’Alene), but with less commercial use.
Realtor and Post Falls City Council member Linda Wilhelm said the SmartCode discussion began three years ago with a series of community and professional meetings. The idea is to bring the city together in a more uniform way.
Wilhelm said it’s about mixed use – where lower-end homes would mix with higher-end homes, condos, retirement homes and businesses.
“It gives developers a little more latitude on what they can do,” Wilhelm said.
Similar to zoning, SmartCode separates districts with special requirements for use. The code refers to six transects, beginning with the most rural zone referred to as T1, somewhat rural as T2, suburban as T3, general urban as T4, urban center as T5 and the urban core, T6. Coles said most of Post Falls lands in the T3 or T4 transects.
For example, Coles said in a residential development under the SmartCode, it would look similar to what you see today, only the homes would be closer to the street with the garages in the back. A portion might include multi-family residences, condos, a small store, coffee shop or a deli.
Although no projects are shovel ready, Coles said some developers have expressed interest in smaller developments for the downtown area of Post Falls – perhaps townhouse units with commercial and retail on the ground floor.
“If you think about the demographics of the nation, this type of living is appealing,” Coles said referring to the baby boomer population. “Everything’s handy.
“SmartCode allows for mixing of uses, but not like throwing it into a blender. It’s carefully working with the applicant to develop a community.”
Besides new annexations, SmartCode also will apply to land in the city center of Post Falls. Coles said the city has always encouraged in-fill, the use of vacant land in an area that is already built up.
Wilhelm believes SmartCode will bring affordable housing into better neighborhoods and create more uniformity in Post Falls.
Usually developers and environmentalists clash, but SmartCode is what Terry Harris with the Kootenai Environmental Alliance called “community friendly.” SmartCode will allow for plenty of open space in developments, and create separate districts with requirements for use.
SmartCode is not new, in fact it has been implemented in several states. Coles said it just needs to be calibrated locally. He estimated it would take 30 to 60 days for SmartCode to be formally adopted.
Correspondent Linda Ball can reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org