Council approves preliminary subdivision plans

Staff Writer | January 8, 2021 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The city council unanimously voted in favor of a request for preliminary approval of a 21-lot subdivision by Cookman Estates, which covers 8.62 acres on North Boyer road.

The subdivision has been in the works since January of 2019, said Marty Taylor of James A. Sewell & Associates, the representation for the applicant, Eric Cookman.

“We’re hoping to finally put this to bed,” he said.

The units would be for single-family residential homes, ranging in size from 6,879 square feet to 7,995 square feet, with an average lot size is 7,407.8 square feet.

The subdivision also provides pedestrian access through a cul-de-sac, although that is not required, Taylor said.

The city also voted in favor of adopting a previously-discussed change and city fees, and heard a presentation the fire services operational assessment by Bruce Moeller with Fitch and Associates, an outside agency the city contracted for the assessment.

The collaboration between the different fire districts in their joint powers agreement, Moeller said, helped improve the ability for the departments to respond to calls.

Sharing resources also meant that the departments had more flexibility, with the possibility to all in a firefighter from a different station should one firefighter be unable to respond, or share resources for mutual benefit as needed.

“The system, as it’s designed, provides that considerable resilience,” he said. “A benefit of the JPA you have the ability to call someone in.”

On the management and financial side of the JPA, the agency did find some areas where the agreement could be improved, Moeller said.

One problem the agency found was redundancies and inefficiencies in the current management — for example, Moeller said, currently, there are three separate payrolls, which his agency suggested consolidating into one.

The group also recommended that the collective bargaining agreement, which is currently being renewed annually, be changed to at least a three-year instead of a one-year time frame.

That would not mean that the individual fire districts would legally be locked into that agreement for that period, he said, but it would provide more continuity for the entities as a whole to move forward together.

The council also heard a presentation from Nicolas Kalogeresis with the Lakota Group, which was contracted by the city to consult for Sandpoint’s Arts, Culture and Historic Preservation Master Plan.

Some of the goals for the master plan, based on surveys and discussions with community members, included facilitating collaboration between various local artists, culture and heritage groups and Native American groups, Kalogeresis said.

Other ideas the city might implement, he said, would be an official historical marker program, curate festivals celebrating Sandpoint’s local arts and culture, establish a Main Street revitalization program and pursue the documentation and designation of important heritage sites in the city.

The group also suggest the city invest in surveying and documenting traditional neighborhood blocks southwest of downtown Sandpoint, and create a nine-member Arts and Historic Preservation Commission to act as a lead on future projects.

“Sandpoint doesn’t have a traditional arts council,” Kalogeresis said. “There’s no one leading the charge on the whole sector.”