Tonight the Coeur d’Alene City Council is being asked to annex 172 acres of Blackwell Island, Lake Coeur d’Alene and the Spokane River and change the zoning to Commercial At 17 Units/Acre (C17). This request is made by the Marina Yacht Club to accommodate their plans to expand.
As part of the annexation request, the Club has asked for exemptions to the 40-foot no construction zone along the shoreline.
KEA’s Lake Coeur d’Alene Waterkeeper program, which works as an on-the-water advocate to ensure Lake Coeur d’Alene meets Clean Water Act standards, urged the Council to consider the projects impacts to water quality issues on Lake Coeur d’Alene.
With regard to the proposed annexation and zone change for the Marina Yacht Club, the Lake Coeur d’Alene Waterkeeper recommends that the Council uphold the City’s shoreline protection measures and setback requirements and not grant any variance that would compromise its integrity.
Coeur d’Alene Lake sets the backdrop and recreational basis for our great City, but it is important to remember the Lake’s water quality is sensitive to human-related land use activities. Coeur d’Alene Lake is currently listed on the State of Idaho’s 303(d) List of impaired water bodies for the pollutants phosphorus and heavy metals. Recently, the Coeur d’Alene Waste Water Treatment Plant underwent extensive and expensive upgrades to reduce its point-source phosphorus contributions to the Spokane River and meet water quality standards. We applaud the City’s efforts with regard to the Plant, but the majority of phosphorus pollution in Coeur d’Alene Lake and the Spokane River is coming from nonpoint sources.
Nonpoint sources of phosphorus include sediment generated by logging in the watershed, development around the lake, septic systems, stormwater runoff, fertilizers, ashes from fires, pet and livestock waste and bank erosion.
As with many of our country’s first adopted setback standards (back in the 1970’s), shoreline setbacks were established largely to protect structures from erosion and the effects of wind and water. More than forty years later, we now know from the best available science that 25-foot setbacks do not protect the ecological functions of the adjacent water body, and thus strengthening vegetative buffer requirements should be considered or atleast upheld. Area specialists certified in hydrology, stormwater and erosion control as well as area agencies note that the simplest and most effective Best Management Practices (BMPs) for the protection of water quality is a 50′-200’ natural vegetative buffer.
The Lake Coeur d’Alene Waterkeeper encourages you to enforce the the City of Coeur d’Alene Code 17.08.205 Shoreline Regulations:
17.08.245: PROHIBITED CONSTRUCTION: Construction within forty feet (40′) of the shoreline shall be prohibited except as provided for in section 17.08.250 of this chapter. (Ord. 1722 §2 (part), 1982)
and NOT grant a variance to the Marina Yacht Club. These variances reduce the function of these very important buffer zones.
The Annexation should have language requiring re-vegetation (from an approved native and beneficial plant list) after any instance of soil disturbance and require the guidance of an experienced local engineer and hydrologist.
There is a great amount of peer-reviewed scientific studies that show the importance of vegetative buffers, showing the great correlations between buffer depths and their relationship to reducing pollutant loading and for providing wildlife habitat.
The Club is also asking for a variance to the City’s height restrictions so that they may construct dry stacking boat storage facilities.
You can submit your comments to City Council by emailing them or by giving public comment tonight Sept 20th at 6pm at the Coeur d’Alene Community Library Room 702 E Front Ave.