HAYDEN, Idaho — A housing development in Hayden is finally getting underway years after it was approved. But, not everyone's about the work taking place.
Some of that work kicked off last week with dirt finally starting to move on the part of the project south of Lancaster Road and east of Government Way.
While the construction might seem sudden to some, city officials say it's been in the works for a while.
"I think that our little piece of heaven has been found," City of Hayden Community Development Director Donna Phillips said.
Kootenai County's population is growing, and Hayden is no exception. The United States Census Bureau reports that the town's population grew by about 2,000 people. This spans from 13,294 people in 2010 to 15,570 people in 2020.
The future only looks to get bigger.
According to the Kootenai Metropolitan Planning Organization, Hayden is projected to reach up to more than 24,000 people by 2030.
The same projections tack on another 10,000 for the population by 2040, bumping the numbers up to 34,955 people.
Jacob Jones, who has lived in Hayden for most of his life, is not a fan of the growth.
"It was a real nice small, nice town to live in," Jones said. "It was perfect and I do not like how it's gotten so big. It's just crazy."
Jones is also not a fan of the Hayden Canyon project just down the road. Recently work kicked off for the first phase of the project.
"I'm just kind of curious about how this housing development, how'd it get passed?" Jones said.
But here's the thing: the Hayden Canyon project passed years ago.
"It's actually been in the works since the early 2000s," Phillips said.
Phillips has worked for the city since the late 1990s, which mean she's been around the project for a while.
Phillips says when the project first started, it was being considered by Kootenai County, who thought it should be a city project.
"They tried to get annexed into the city and the city went 'Wow, that's a big project,'" Phillips said. "'We need to do that not in the city' and pushed it back at the county and the county said 'No, no, that still belongs in the city.'"
The 610 acre project was eventually settled in the city. Hayden City Council minutes show the final unit development passed in early 2013.
"We are ten years later and they're just breaking ground," Phillips said.
According to the Stafford Land Company's website, who took over the project in 2020, Hayden Canyon could bring more that 1,500 residences to the development. Phillips adds the development will have a cap of 2.5 units per acre.
Hayden residents have shared concerns about traffic, water and infrastructure, as well as the impact to public space.
In addition, she says the development has to dedicate 40% of the property for open space as part of the annexation requirements, which adds up to about 240 acres.
"It'll be a different kind of interaction that occurs, but you're going to still see animals in there," Phillips said.
The Stafford Land Company has since sold off the project's first phases to Lennar Homes of Idaho and to SUF Holdings.
Stafford Land Company development director Bryan Cavaness said when it comes to their phases, they're hoping to have housing in the upper area of the project by fall 2023.
He said they're hoping to have entry-level housing in the upper $300,000 to low $400,000 range. "That would be a goal, whether or not that can be achieved given current pricing constraints," said Cavaness.
Some of the units expected to go into Hayden Canyon include single family homes, townhomes and apartments. It's also expected to feature some mixed-use property with commercial space on the bottom and residences on top.
In the meantime, Cavaness said some of the work they're doing right now includes working with the Avondale Irrigation District to help with a water reservoir, put in a booster pump station and work with the city to help on sewer improvements.
But even with no homes yet, Cavaness said they're already getting interest from homebuyers, with some even as far away from Utah.
"I can field up to two or three calls a week that are just cold calls that come into our office asking what kind of housing is going to be available and when is it going to be available?" Cavaness said.
At this time, Hayden city officials expect traffic impacts to be minimal with the possibility of both North Government Way and East Lancaster reduced to one lane for utility installation and road widening.
They add the developers don't intend to have full road closures.
"Are we going to feel it's a little odd for a while?" Phillips said. "Oh yeah, we are."