Sandpoint P&Z greenlights Ridge at Cedar St. apartments, with conditions

By Zach Hagadone
Reader Staff

Sandpoint Planning and Zoning commissioners unanimously approved a three-story, 15-unit multi-family development on the 1700 block of Cedar at their regular meeting Oct. 1, albeit with some conditions. 

An artist’s rendering of the proposed The Ridge at Cedar St. development. Image courtesy of City of Sandpoint.

The Ridge at Cedar Street apartments, proposed by Hayden-based Cedar Street Investments LLC, can now go forward with the stipulation that the developer and city staff negotiate on how to lessen the bulk, mass and scale of the project — a move intended to reduce the visual impact on the surrounding neighborhood, which is comprised primarily of single-level, single-family homes. 

The other condition put in place by commissioners — and one recommended by Sandpoint City Planner Aaron Qualls — is to require that the developer construct a six-foot masonry fence along the eastern and southern boundaries of the property in order to cut down on noise and light pollution.

The Ridge at Cedar Street apartments drew strong opposing testimony from dozens of neighbors the first time it came before commissioners on Sept. 3 — so much so that P&Z tabled its deliberations until City Attorney Will Harrington could weigh in on the legality of outright rejecting the conditional use permit.

“I think that your job is to make sure that the project fits in with the zoning codes of the city, and that’s what the conditional use permit power is — not to approve or deny the project, it’s to limit the project if it is not in conformance with the provisions of City Code,” Harrington told commissioners at the Oct. 1 meeting. “The zoning is appropriate, and my desire is to not have the city in a position where the property owner can say, ‘You’re taking my property rights by not allowing me to develop my property to the extent that the zoning code allows me to develop.’”

Though they approved the conditional use permit, some commissioners echoed earlier concerns voiced by neighboring residents that the apartment complex would add undue stress to an already overtaxed section of Cedar Street. 

Qualls agreed that “there are certainly issues, particularly on Cedar where it does neck down and is deficient.” However, the size of the project — which will bring with it a projected 150 vehicle trips per day — didn’t meet the threshold to trigger a traffic study. 

That said, Qualls added, the city is sure to address Cedar Street and the section in question running west from Division Street during its transportation master planning process, which is currently getting under way. 

“I think it’s safe to say it will be given a lot of detail,” he said. “We are not ignoring that; we know it’s an issue.”

The decision is final unless appealed by neighbors or the developer, in which case it would move to the Sandpoint City Council for consideration.

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