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'Following the California playbook chapter and verse' | Residents react to Coeur Terre project as plans move forward

During a six-hour meeting last week which started with a prayer, dozens of people testified against plans to build the new community.

COEUR D'ALENE, Idaho — A battle is brewing in Coeur d'Alene over plans to replace a field along Huetter Road with thousands of new homes and apartments. Those who live near the proposed site fear the development will bring massive amounts of traffic and forever change their quality of life.

Coeur Terre would be built in phases over 20 to 30 years.

During a six-hour meeting last week which started with a prayer, dozens of people who live adjacent to the field in Indian Meadows testified against the project and asked Coeur d'Alene city council members to reject it.

"I have been kind of heartbroken as I've been talking with some of my neighbors and heard them say that they're glad that they're pretty sure they'll be dead before they experience most of the fallout that's expected from this decision," one resident said.

According to Senior Project Manager Brad Marshall, Coeur Terre would create an estimated 900 new jobs and $4.4 million in annual tax revenue for the city.

"The development will invest about $2.5 billion dollars into the community," Marshall said.

"I'd like to propose we change the city name to new Los Angeles. Why? Because Kootenai County Land Company is following the California playbook chapter and verse. Chapter one: make promises you can't keep," another resident said.

Rob Orth, regional vice president of Tomlinson Sothebys International Realty supports the project and believes Coeur Terre will address what he calls the missing middle: a column of housing Coeur d'Alene is in short supply of.

"There's a lot of passion involved because this is going to change the community, and everyone knows that," Orth said. "For the next 10, 15, 20 years, the millennials are going to be the biggest buyer pool and they're about 60% of the buyer pool right now."

"What's interesting is first time buyers are pretty much looking at the same type of house product that seniors are looking at. So smaller, three bedroom two bath, single level flat, moderate sizes pieces of property that they can manage and afford to get into or afford to downsize to," Orth said.

"We understand growth in inevitable. We understand the plea for more housing. However, Kootenai County land company and future residents of Coeur Terre will not bear the burden of this project," one woman told council members.

The city's planning commission approved the annexation of the 442-acre field, as well as zoning changes in October. However, in order for Coeur Terre to move forward, city council members have to do the same.

In the end, council members told developers they needed more time to consider plans for the project. Council member Dan Gookin said he's not against development but thinks the current proposal negatively impacts the existing neighborhoods.

"I think there's some options that the land company could come back to us with," Gookin said.

Compromises could include restricting access to the east and preventing the thousands of cars in Coeur Terre from cutting through Indian Meadows. The eastern edge of the field could also be zoned as "R1," meaning only one home per acre. This would make it more compatible with the existing neighborhood.

Council members will consider the new proposal on Feb. 21.

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