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Sandpoint P&Z approve Madison Meadows subdivision

by EMILY BONSANT
Staff Writer | September 14, 2021 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT— Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission approved the proposed Madison Meadows subdivision following public comment on stormwater storage and traffic concerns.

The proposed subdivision by Atlas Development LLC and co-owner Vertis is on 1.79 acres with 10 buildable single family dwelling lots, a flagpole lot and one unbuildable lot for a stormwater track. Since the subdivision will be surrounded by public property and the lot is an “oddly unique” shape there will be no through street resulting in a cul-de-sac instead of conforming to the city’s desired grid pattern.

The subdivision is situated with Cedar Street to the south, Madison Avenue to the west, Mosshart Street to the north and Nickolas Street to the east.

Survey and public comments gathered by the developer included a desire for road repairs and improvements as well as a concern over how the project would impact traffic levels in the area. Some residents said they were neutral about the subdivision as long as the buildings were single family homes. Two-story homes were opposed due to blocking views that current homeowners had.

Residents also expressed concern about pest control and stormwater efforts. In addition, there was concern about the infrastructure load of two new residences and maintaining the reputation of Sandpoint as a small town, as well as desire for affordable housing for service workers, said by Tess Copper, city senior planner.

No additional right of way is required along Madison, Cooper said, adding the existing system right of way is acceptable. Maintenance of proposed stormwater swales shall be the responsibility of homeowners, said Cooper.

All final street stormwater and utility layout and design details are subject to detailed engineering plan review at the time of final plat and building permit, said Cooper.

“Sandpoint’s comprehensive plan has a preference for traditional grid street patterns. This subdivision does not have the grid street pattern, it is our third one in a row with a cul-de-sac,” said Planning and Zoning Commissioner Cate Huisman.

Other commissioners voiced options that the comprehensive plan is not being followed to the letter and there is a need for additional infrastructure near developments.

“Cedar Street has no sidewalks. It is one of the least developed streets of Sandpoint, yet so many more residences are being built there,” said Jason Welker, P&Z chairman.

Another discussion was the length of the street in Madison Meadows.

“I understood city code to say the city blocks had to be between 300 and 600 feet. How are these developments and how is this development getting away with having blocks of less than 300 feet?” asked Welker.

Dan Tadic, city engineer, said that the city is working with many remnant parcels and it has become challenging to try to fit within the confines of the urban area transportation plan, multimodal plan and city code.

“With this particular provision, there is a bit of a discrepancy between the urban and transportation planning guidelines that specify a 250-foot spacing and code which actually allows for 150 intersection spacing on a local street. And we've typically accommodated the code provision,” said Tadic.

It is a common discussion amongst the commission of the cumulative effect of these new developments, said Welker. A single development may not warrant a full trip report, but taking in consideration the 27 homes on Nicholas, Mosshart and units being built just one block west on Cedar Street in the next year, this is an addition of 57 new residences right along Cedar Street which will have an impact on the roadways.

“Anybody who's driven Cedar [Street] knows it's one of the worst maintained streets in Sandpoint. It's also where the library is and where a lot of heavy vehicles pass by,” said Welker.

Since Cedar Street has no sidewalks and curbs, just old swales on the sides, he wondered if there's any ability for the city to step up and invest in that street knowing how much new development is going in along that street right now, and has gone in in the last two years.

Applicant representative for Vertis and lead planner for the subdivision Anthony Bauerle spoke before the commissioners on concerns of Madison Meadows.

The development engineer and city engineer Dan Tadic have discussed concerns of stormwater. There will be an extensive stormwater management plan going forward with the subdivision, said Bauerle.

Covenants, conditions and restrictions are not yet written for Madison Meadows, so the requirements for homeowners to maintain stormwater are not yet decided, said Bauerle. There is a tract in the subdivision dedicated to stormwater management and that should play a part. The stormwater management plan will be decided in a later stage of the development.

Welker reiterated privacy concerns that neighbors brought forward in public comment and inquired on the style of homes at Madison Meadows.

Bauerle again said that the CCNRs are still not written up and so the height of the houses and the style of houses have still not been decided.

Sandy Young, the president and principal planner at Veritas, spoke on the stormwater management of Madison Meadows.

“We're still at the very preliminary stage so we haven't hammered down or honed into what types of homes will be here,” said Young. We've taken a lot of great pains to make sure that this complies with the city's regulations for stormwater but also to ensure all stormwater on site will be treated as it should be.

The peak rate of the runoff from the site won't exceed what the city's mandated. Officials will comply with all those and of course work closely with the city engineer, said Young.

During public comment for those that were neutral on the proposed subdivision, a resident on Nicholas Way, told commissioners that when the Mosshart Street subdivision went in, the developers did almost nothing for erosion control during the process of development.

Many of those homes still don't have yards. All of the runoff from that neighborhood is a mixture of water that's been treated properly and also silt, said the resident. The problem is all of the runoff from Mosshart and most of the houses on Poplar Street flows into these drainage features on 1525 Nicholas Way.

“Which is directly north of my house. Which means that essentially two whole neighborhoods are flowing into my backyard,” said the resident. “I would urge those in charge to develop the detailed stormwater drainage plan to consider someplace else or [design a] drainage for at least the majority of the neighborhood. At the least come up with a way of mitigating the additional load that's being placed on that poor drainage feature.”

The resident said the drainage is already fairly full of silt, and the water backs up pretty far into their backyard during a good rain. The resident also advocated for a four-way stop at the Cedar and Division intersection due to the increased traffic and proximity to the high school.

Cedar Street is becoming a bottleneck with traffic and the increase of housing is only going to make it more so, said Commissioner Mose Dunkel. It is already a problem and will become more of one.

“Something should have been done a while ago. This [problem] didn’t just pop up. I remember when we talked about this a year ago,” said Dunkel. “[Commissioners] know how I feel about the grid street pattern. I don't know how you put one in here, the damage is done.”

Welker said the developers did as well as they could to use the 1.8 acres and get 10 properties on there, referencing the specifics of the development. Last year, he said the commission heard a proposal for a development in the same neighborhood that's on property just over half the size that had additional 18 dwelling units.

“It just sort of pains me to see the last few undeveloped multifamily properties in Sandpoint be subdivided into single family lots. Because I don't believe that the homes that end up on these single family lots are meeting our real housing needs and Sandpoint, which is for workforce housing,” said Welker.

“We have multi-family zoning in Sandpoint, we want to see more multi-family properties. I know the neighbors probably I don't like hearing that. But generally speaking, that's really what I think we need in this town,” said Welker. “We've seen so many subdivisions like this in the last two years. I would have loved to see a multi-family development on this property.”

The proposed subdivision passed on a 5-0 vote and will be sent to the city council for vote at a later date. Sandpoint Planning and Zoning meetings are on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 5:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.