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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Planned development raising conflict charges

Some residents think Kootenai County Commissioner Katie Brodie shouldn’t vote on a proposed housing development west of Rathdrum because she still works for the company that used to own the land.

Brodie and the county attorney say no conflict exists because Brodie no longer has any economic interest in the Lost Creek property or the proposed 64-lot subdivision.

Save Lost Creek, a neighborhood group opposed to the housing development in the rural area along Lost Creek, wants Brodie to abstain from voting during a public hearing on Thursday.

Spokeswoman Claudia Agate notes that Brodie still works for Idaho Forest Industries, which initially proposed putting homes on the property in addition to a 10 million gallon sewage lagoon.

In 2002, before Brodie was elected, the county commission unanimously denied the request. Last year IFI sold the property to Norman and Tracy Waldo of Post Falls. The Waldos are working with local real estate agent Chuck Hughes on the new plan to put 64 homes along a creek in the Hidden Valley area.

“If anything, it’s an appearance of a conflict,” said Agate, who lives in the area and has fought any development of the land. “I just don’t think she can be unbiased about this.”

Deputy County Attorney John Cafferty said Idaho law states that a conflict exists only if Brodie benefits economically. He said there is no provision for an appearance of a conflict.

“She has no affiliation with the present owners,” Cafferty said.

Agate said she met with Brodie in March 2004 because IFI had a new plan to put fewer homes on the property.

She also refers to an April 2004 letter about the land, from the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality to the county planning department, that’s copied to Brodie, who wasn’t yet a commissioner.

Agate said these things prove that Brodie has had an interest in the property within the last year.

But Cafferty said that’s not against the law and the only thing that matters is that Brodie currently doesn’t have an interest in the property or the development.

Brodie insists she’s not compromised and plans to make that declaration at the hearing.

“If IFI still owned the ground, then I would agree with her,” Brodie said about Agate’s concerns. “I do not have a conflict of interest. I feel pretty knowledgeable about the land.”

The county commission is having a public hearing Thursday on the proposal that has raised concerns with DEQ. The agency wants to make sure that putting 64 individual septic tanks on the property won’t harm nearby wells or pollute the aquifer.

The property is classified as a sensitive recharge area for the Spokane Valley/Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer, which is the sole source of drinking water for more than 400,000 people. The homes would have individual septic tanks and the drinking water would come from a community system maintained by a proposed homeowners association.

A county hearing examiner previously recommended approval of the development.

The commission also will have a hearing on developer Marshall Chesrown’s plans to create 33 luxury lake estates on 251 acres adjoining Sun Up Bay.

The Ridge at Sun Up Bay would be a gated community of homes priced at $2 million and up, similar to Chesrown’s nearby Club at Black Rock.

The 6 p.m. hearing is at the Kootenai County Administration Building, 451 Government Way. For more information, call 446-1070.

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