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Public Outcry May Have Nixed a Job Training Facility for Veterans in Boise

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The trouble began in early October, when people in the Lake Harbor neighborhood received a letter from Garden City-based Trace Inc. about its plans for the former location of The Waterfront—the bar on the shore of the lake that gave the neighborhood its name.

Trace, which conducts job training for veterans and people with disabilities, wanted to turn the bar into a puppy grooming training facility, retail location and offices. In her letter, Trace President Cheryl Harris wrote the proposed change would bring retail activity to the neighborhood, and she hoped she had its support.

She didn't. Residents noted the projected hours of operation for the facility (8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.) did not sync with Harris' promise to "maintain safe and sanitary conditions at all times" for the puppies and "not disturb the peaceful serenity of the lake."

"I guess the concern is that you're putting dogs in a place that isn't designed [to house dogs]," said Lake Harbor Neighborhood Association member Sheila Spangler.

Meanwhile, Trace had applied to the Boise Planning & Zoning Commission to alter the building. A hearing had been scheduled for Monday, Dec. 11, and the neighbors were preparing to fight the project when they received surprising news Nov. 27.

"We were probably about three hours away from handing a retainer to an attorney to represent the local homeowners in this battle we've gotten ourselves into, and the Planning & Zoning guy, Leon [Letson], advised me this morning that [Trace] had withdrawn the application," said resident Jim Harris (no relation to Cheryl).

Letson, a city planner, confirmed resistance to the Trace proposal was at least part of the reason it had backed away from the proposal.

Trace is one of the largest nonprofits in the Boise area, with more than $20 million in annual revenue. It has, according to nonprofitlight.com, several multimillion-dollar government contracts for services at military facilities. Cheryl Harris could not be reached for comment, but Jim Harris was pleased with the outcome.

"They finally faced the fact that regardless of what Planning and Zoning was going to do, the residents here were never going to be very happy," he said.

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