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Ponderay officials to vote on high-density housing

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | February 27, 2022 1:00 AM

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PONDERAY — City officials will see three apartment building applications in the coming days.

Although the projects vary in price point, all developers expressed intentions of alleviating the housing shortage in Bonner County.

All projects are seeking special use permits as they exceed height or density provisions in Ponderay city code.

The most upscale of the projects will go before the Ponderay City Council on March 7. The 12-unit, Sand Creek Ridge project was recommended for approval by the Ponderay’s Planning & Zoning commission on Feb. 9. The project to the west of U.S. 95 overlooking Sand Creek includes four buildings ranging from two- to- four stories tall. In addition to multi-family dwellings, the project also includes a restaurant, office and retail spaces, and an underground parking garage.

“Housing has become a hot button issue within Bonner County, and we’re hoping to alleviate some of those pressures by providing a compelling, higher-density solution than more single family homes,” read the application submitted by Sandcreek Crossing LLC. “The owners of the project are long-time participants in the area and are truly invested in the future of Ponderay.”

As part of the project, the developers included a dedicated land area to “preserve recreational access” implying limited development on the parcel north of the project. Also included in the land dedication area is a planned extension of the already existing bike trail traveling along Sand Creek.

“The property owners will donate the land to extend the trail on the west side along their property. The property owners in exchange would like an easement or license to allow for the residents to be able to put in or take out at this location for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoes.”

Less than a mile to the east on Triangle Drive is another proposed development that would exclusively house Schweitzer Mountain Resort employees.

Eastmark Capital Group is partnering with Schweitzer to construct 84 one- to- three bedroom units. The three, three-story buildings are less than a 15-minute drive from Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

“It is critical for Schweitzer to provide safe, stable, and affordable housing to its employees thereby securing the long-term viability of the Schweitzer business model,” read the application by Eastmark, a Seattle-based company. “All of the units covered by this special use permit will be occupied by Schweitzer annual and seasonal employees.”

Although it is the largest proposed development going before the Ponderay Planning & Zoning commission, it is not the only one.

Also on the March 9 agenda is a eight-unit apartment building proposed on Juniper Loop off of Highway 200. The complex would be located within an existing development, the Retreat at Bay Trail. In an application submitted by Bay Trail LLC, the project is “harmonious with the surrounding area and follows the general objectives of the comprehensive plan.”

On March 9, Planning and Zoning commissioners will hear another application for a proposed hotel off of U.S. 95, in addition to other minor requests.

Ponderay’s City Council and Planning & Zoning commission hold public meetings when addressing development. The City Council meeting will be held at 288 Fourth St. in Ponderay on Monday, March 7, at 6 p.m. The Planning & Zoning commission will meet two days later on March 9 in the same location at 5:30 p.m.

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