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‘Actually offensive’: proposed McCall event center causes public outcry

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A proposed McCall event center drew a lot of criticism during the city’s planning and zoning meeting Tuesday.

In the early 1970s, 201 Rio Vista Blvd. was the Northwest Passage Bed and Breakfast. The house was refurbished throughout 2019 and 2020 and purchased later and licensed as a short-term rental and a bed-and-breakfast during the McCall off-season. 

Now, applicants, Susan and James Evans want to turn it into Cloud 9, an event center and vacation rental spot.

“We think it helps preserve and enhance the character of this wonderful town, Susan Evans said. “We want to be able to provide employment opportunities for local people, which we would through catering and the types of things that would be there periodically.”

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Evans said Cloud 9 would be a place where guests could get married, or host family reunions, or BBQs. She added it would give local business revenue opportunities for catering and property management.

She emphasized that this is not some large event center. It would be for small to moderate events with a maximum capacity of 110. Cloud 9 would observe the quiet hours from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m, and it would have no indoor assembly.

Evans said there would be parking for up to 30 cars and bike spots. She is also encouraging the use of public transportation, with no parking available on Rio Vista.

Though this is an event center, Susan Evans said it would primarily serve as a vacation rental spot.

Residents testify

Site plan. Via The Land Group

Around an hour of testimony went on with all people opposing it but one, who ended up being one of the design engineers.

The complaints largely surrounded noise and the idea that this would be an event center in an area zoned residential.

“We purchased our home a year ago, we love this neighborhood, it’s a quiet neighborhood,” McCall resident John Sanchez said. “You can walk at night. You can hear the river at night after eight o’clock when the car stopped driving around. You can hear just about everything. And you can hear things all over, the sound carries quite a bit throughout this neighborhood. … (if) there’s a neighbor that has a party on the loop and you can hear the music because it just goes right across. So to me having an event center near my home where I can’t even go outside and listen to the river anymore, which I paid an enormous amount of money for is actually offensive.”

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Another resident called in to talk about potential drunk drivers.

“(My son asked if) ‘we’re not going to ride our bikes on weekends because of all the drunk drivers from the weddings?’ One of my main concerns is definitely noise,” McCall resident Piers Lamb said. “I think we all enjoy the beautiful evenings in McCall, the serene environment, the solitude, the peacefulness, the bright stars. I feel like this application, I think could lead to just a ton of traffic. I feel terrible for everybody in that Rio Vista neighborhood, including ourselves, but more of them, I just feel like it’s unnecessary.”

Susan Evans responded to the tough public feedback, saying there were ‘ a lot of exaggerations.’

“We’re guilty before we had a chance to prove our innocence,” Evans said during the meeting. “I feel like we could absolutely deliver on everything that we promised. And that the commission and the city has at their disposal the option to revoke a permit if it is not executed properly. And I think that is one of the wonderful things.”

Staff & commission response

City staff recommended approval with a couple of added conditions after hearing the majority of people testifying object to the idea.

The P&Z commission was torn with one commissioner saying a temporary permit would be good for a case like this, such as a summer trial to see how it goes.

Commissioner Christina Nemec had a hard time looking past the overwhelmingly negative comments.

“I can’t help but notice that the public comment was overwhelmingly felt that this use is not appropriate in that area,” Nemec said. “There was only the one person who is involved in the project that had testified in favor of a project that is rolling around in my head.”

Commissioner Ryan Kinzer, who was mostly against the idea, agreed that McCall needs something like this, but isn’t sure a residential neighborhood is a place for it to be located.

“From my perspective, I kind of agree with a lot of the testimony that we heard tonight,” Kinzer said. “I’m concerned about traffic through the residential area. I’m concerned about the noise and I’m concerned about the parking like many folks.”

The commission voted to table Cloud 9 until the next meeting.

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at autum@boisedev.com.

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