Golden Hills fourth addition given third plat extension
Owners say slow recovery of housing market makes two more years crucial for continued development
Cheney Community Development Department
A map of the plat of the entire Golden Hills development is shown above. The fourth addition receiving the extension is outlined in bold, however the extension also applies to the third addition located above and wrapping around to the west.
Owners of the final two phases of Cheney’s Golden Hills subdivision will get an additional two more years to finish a project that began almost nine years ago and has helped expand the city’s northern residential boundary.
Cheney planning commissioners unanimously approved a preliminary plat extension for Golden Hills Fourth Addition at their regular meeting Monday night, Sept. 9. The hilly, 8.15-acre site is one of two plats located north of the current second addition straddling Golden Hills Drive. Originally one plat, Cheney planner Brett Lucas told the commission that it was split into two pieces in March 2012 for financing purposes, and has already received two extensions, one in September 2009 and another in October 2011.
The extensions were granted because of the sharp reduction in the local housing demand caused by the 2008 recession. The third extension is needed to give that market, which is beginning to recover, a chance to pick up steam.
“It’s just a slow need for housing at the moment,” Lucas said.
Mark Johnson of T-O Engineers in Coeur d’Alene, the firm representing plat owner Mike Erkmann and in essence the owner of the third addition plat John Raby, said the previous two extensions would have been tough to sell to the commission. The third however is needed because of positive signs in the housing market making the outlook for development of the plat more promising. He cited recent grants of easements for stormwater system development and an emergency vehicle turnaround as evidence of progress.
“There seems to be momentum with subdivision and platting right now that makes this more feasible and more truthful than that this is going to move ahead in the next 18 months,” Johnson said.
Commissioners expresses some concerns surrounding the addition, notably a proposed walking trail splitting the two plats in half, but going nowhere else. Commission chair Vince Barthels said this would essentially result in a “trail to nowhere” and leave future residents in the plat without any access to the city’s trail system, which was extended with the creation of a trail just to the east of the plat when the school district leveled Crunks Hill and built a playfield complex.
Johnson said he didn’t believe the plat owner would be averse to changing the trail design to include connectivity as such a move would enhance the “community atmosphere” of the development and the desirability of its parcels. He said he would relate the concern to the owner.
Documents submitted to the commission as part of the request showed the applicant has completed the majority of the original conditions for approval. Conditions such as a utility plan, grading plan, zero lot line construction and water and sewer system development charges will be met during actual construction.
Another condition to be met at time of construction drew questions from Councilman Graeme Webster, sitting in the audience, regarding the approval condition surrounding park mitigation fees. The condition stipulated payment of fees of $1,275 per lot, although an agreement signed Nov. 8, 2005 with the city established a prorated payment of $962 be “paid for each lot at the time of building permit.”
Webster noted the fees had gone up since then. According to the city municipal code, park fees are calculated via a per person/per dwelling formula, assessing single-family residences $1,482.
“Are we holding firm and fast to the amounts negotiated 10 years ago?” Webster asked.
Johnson said he’d have to look at the development’s history, but believed some park fees had been exchanged for use of a parcel of land as a park. Public Works Director Todd Ableman confirmed this, as did Lucas, noting the park is on the corner of Sunrise and Golden Hills.
As for the current fee agreement, Johnson said normally what’s agreed upon in contracts holds firm for the duration of the agreement. Webster pointed out the clause included the language “a sum mutually agreed upon.”
“I guess that could be a trigger for the city to ask for more,” Johnson said.
Commissioners in the end agreed that substantial development of agreement conditions had occurred since the last extension, and that is was in the best interests of all parties to grant the extension.
John McCallum can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.