We got word last night that the City of Harrison, a town of fewer than 300 people, will be annexing the Powderhorn peninsula for a development of more than 1000 homes. Seemingly hell-bent on their own destruction, the Harrison City Council voted 4 to 1 in favor of the annexation. The unprecedented annexation will connect across the open waters of the Coeur d’Alene River where it meets with the Lake.
The massive development will take place along scenic Highway 97, a busy and curving and narrow two lane road. It will take place on a dry peninsula, and will require water to be drawn from the City’s water system. The proposal ran into a headwind in Kootenai County as inconsistent with the comprehensive plan and the rural character of the area. The annexation by Harrison is an end run around the County’s approval process.
Because the Coeur d’Alene Tribe has claim to the lakebed, across which the annexation would occur, the Harrison City Council agreed to a deal which satisfied the Tribal interests. In essence, Harrison agreed to relinquish control over a disputed extension of the municipal boundary in 1983, in exchange for the Tribe’s consent to the annexation. (Map shown above.)
It still isn’t at all clear that the annexation is legal. There’s a very real question as to whether the jump across open water maintains the necessary contiguity for an annexation of the type requested by the developer. Along with the procedures used for this type of annexation, the whole thing is likely to end up in Court.
Legal technicality notwithstanding, the annexation is a stunning example of dumb growth. Here, a small town has essentially annexed itself out of existence. Control over Harrison’s future will no longer be held by the current townsfolk, but rather the influx of residents to the unconnected other side of the river. Water decisions, sewer decisions, road decisions will eventually be made to service the sprawling golf course development on the peninsula, not the charming small town by the Lake.