By Zach Hagadone
With no discussion or debate, the Sandpoint City Council at its Sept. 1 meeting approved the final plat for Phase I of the University Place development on North Boyer Avenue. This phase would include 53 lots of single-family residential housing — part of a sweeping redevelopment of the former University of Idaho agricultural campus on the east side of North Boyer south of East Mountain View Drive.
The project was formerly known as University Park, but had to be changed due to a conflict with another development — according to city documents, “Bonner County determined that this name is not available.”
Council members Joel Aispuro, John Darling, Andy Groat and Kate McAlister voted in favor. Council member Deb Ruehle voted no. Council President Shannon Sherman was absent.
Interim City Planner Daren Fluke provided a brief presentation prior to the vote, noting that “a few things” were still pending for Phase I, but approval was needed to meet a hearing of the Independent Highway District. He did not elaborate on specifically what those “few things” were, nor did he state the substance or date of the IHD meeting, or its correlation with the project. Questions on those specifics went unanswered, as of presstime.
Next, Fluke brought up a “minor issue with ownership of the plat.” According to city documents, the preliminary plat application included K-M Enterprises of Idaho, LLC and M&W Holdings, LLC as co-owners of a single parcel. The joint owners entered into a quitclaim deed dividing the northern and southern portions of the 75.2-acre, 152-lot, mixed-use development, but that was before approval — running afoul of City Code, which requires that any subdivision of land has to run through a public process.
To retroactively solve that issue, the city is now administratively processing a short plat that will divide the property in conformance with Code — so the “applicants can go their own way,” Fluke said.
It is unclear what that means for the project as a whole — requests for comment to the city went unanswered by presstime — but Fluke referred to needed modifications to the development agreement. Again, it is unclear what those modifications might be, or through what process they may go — whether administrative or public.
Finally, Fluke noted a question over ownership of the land promised to Kaniksu Land Trust on the east side of the plat along Sand Creek. That area contains wetlands and open space, which the developer and its representatives have touted as a benefit to the community at large. Fluke said recording the plat would allow the developer to convey that land, though that process as well was not described and request for comment was unanswered by presstime.
The Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously, 5-0, to recommend denial of the University Place (then Park) development in October 2020, citing an “excessive” 2,000-foot block length along North Boyer, double frontage lots and its street arrangement. The Council, however, approved the preliminary plat in November 2020.
Otherwise in the Sept. 1 meeting, Sandpoint City Administrator Jennifer Stapleton noted that the council will hold a special meeting Wednesday, Sept. 8 at 5:30 p.m. for a public hearing on a proposed 1% resort city local option tax.
Funds raised by the LOT would go toward helping fund parks and recreation facilities, as described in the Parks and Rec. Master Plan.
The LOT needs a supermajority to pass on the November ballot. The city is hosting a survey on the proposal on its website (opentownhall.com/portals/287/Issue_11069), via mobile app and in person at a kiosk in City Hall (1123 Lake St.).
Survey responses will be gathered until 5 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 6.
The last day to file for candidacy for three open City Council seats (those of Council members Aispuro, Darling and Sherman) is Friday, Sept. 3 at 5 p.m. Find more information and forms at sandpointidaho.gov under “Meetings” and at voetidaho.gov/city-resources.
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