Margie Potter

Margie Potter speaks at the Nampa City Council Meeting on Monday, June 7, 2021.

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NAMPA — Margie Potter walked toward the Nampa City Council during its Monday meeting. She stood behind the podium and began to talk about the Copper Depot Apartments project she started working on separately from her job with the Salvation Army.

Planning and Zoning had denied a conditional use permit for the apartments to allow multi-family housing in an area zoned “BC” or Community Business. The Council was hearing an appeal with a revised layout for the project. Almost four times the number of people at Monday’s meeting expressed opposition versus in those in favor.

“It is difficult to prosper when you have no place to call home,” Potter said, pausing and taking a breath. “It gets me every time.”

The proposed project, which was seeking to build at the Northwest corner of East Amity Avenue and South Grays Lane, was a 252-unit affordable family apartment community, with a mix of 60 one-bedroom units, 126 two-bedroom units, 54 three-bedroom units and 12 4-bedroom apartment homes. The units were proposed for households at or below 60% of the area median income.

Potter had been helping in particular because of her contacts in the community. But despite her work the City Council ultimately upheld the denial of the conditional use permit, with all but Councilwoman Jean Mutchie voting to uphold it.

Before the vote Mutchie told the audience the community’s “not in my backyard” sentiments can’t continue to be the status quo.

“No child should sleep in a parking lot and as a community we have to figure out what we value. This is coming to somebody’s neighborhood because we don’t have a choice,” Mutchie said. “This is not going away. This is just tonight. This is going to come back every time.”

In Nampa, 1,500 students experience homelessness, Mutchie said.

“(The) valedictorian at Nampa high (a few) years ago was homeless. That’s not typical,” she said. “But the investment we’re going to make in our community has to start somewhere. We’re going to continue to say not in my backyard, but where do these children go?”

There’s nothing wrong with people in apartments, she said, adding many at the meeting have lived in apartments.

But others said they worked hard to get away from apartments.

One man, Brian Warrick, said he lived in apartments as a young professional.

“I worked really hard to be able to move away from that type of living to a single-family residential neighborhood with extremely large lots because I wanted my space,” Warrick said. “I really don’t want this in my backyard.”

Warrick said the project would be detrimental to the health, safety and welfare of Nampa residents, including the proposed residents would live in the apartments.

“Vehicle traffic is a huge concern. The developer has offered up some Band-Aids for the project, but that’s really all they are,” Warrick said, adding pedestrian traffic is also a concern.

Many others expressed concerns about traffic. One woman said she had personally been in an accident in the area.

William Beverage, representing a homeowners association, said “we support the concept of trying to find affordable housing for our community.”

“Our concerns are that the traffic is such that this area is predominantly single-family homes … the idea that you can just come in and drop in high-density, 252 units and hundreds of cars without a huge impact — with some Band-Aid measures on the road — is ill-conceived and unsupported by our community,” he said.

Growth is coming, he said, but the transition from single-family homes to the complex was, in this case, incompatible.

Other council members, said the building didn’t fit the neighborhood although many said they cared about the issue of affordable housing. Councilman Jacob Bower said housing was a crisis but added he “can’t do this” to the homeowners by putting a three-story building in the area.

When it comes to public safety, Nampa is down 41 police officers, councilwoman Sandi Levi said. She questioned whether law enforcement would have adequate backup if called to a house and asked if they could keep the community safe.

“They’re important too, and their quality of life is just as important as the person who is experiencing homelessness,” Levi said. “(The issue) is very real. We need to find out what we can do about it.”{/div}

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