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Some homeowners wary of proposed Bear Lake development


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ST. CHARLES, Idaho — A proposed development could more than double the population of St. Charles on the Idaho side of Bear Lake.

Some area homeowners are trying to fight it, but there may not be much they can do.

That's frustrating to Wayne Keetch. His family homesteaded in St. Charles.

"I was born and raised here," he explained. He came back to the area in the early '70s. "This house was the newest house in St. Charles for five years."

The longtime cattle rancher said the area hasn't seen a whole lot of growth, until recently.

"A year ago, there were eight new homes built right here in St. Charles, so we've seen a lot of growth in the last few years," he said.

They could soon see a whole lot more.

"I think we've checked every box," said developer Thom Morgan. "I think we've gone through every item."

He recently told a packed room before the Bear Lake County Planning and Zoning commission that his team has spent 4 1/2 years making sure they do this right.

The Seven Mile Ranch Subdivision just outside of St. Charles would have one home per acre and some very strict HOA rules to limit short-term rentals from getting out of hand.

Resident Stacey Transtrum wasn't so sure. "What used to be holiday weekends, we're seeing that influx of people on every weekend, not just the holidays."

As the popularity of Bear Lake grows, interest in summer homes is going up with it.

Keetch said he understands that but worries about what's happening to his small town.

"I'm trying to be open-minded about the whole thing, but all of a sudden to have several — well, 250 new homes in the area is not exactly my idea of fun," he said.

As long as the developers are able to keep up with building and zoning requirements, these plans will likely continue to go forward. The first two phases were passed on to the county commission for review.

Some say the area could use the boost in tax revenue.

"At full buildout, that's going to have a significant impact on the asset value of Bear Lake County, and cash flow that will add to the varying taxing districts that this property resides with," homeowner Roy Bunderson said.

Morgan said he's made sure there will be enough well water for the homes and he will work with the community to try and keep traffic on Highway 89 and off city roads.

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Mike Anderson
Mike Anderson often doubles as his own photographer, shooting and editing most of his stories. He came to KSL in April 2011 after working for several years at various broadcast news outlets.

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