Landings waved off in airport rezones

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SANDPOINT — Two proposed rezones near Sandpoint Airport remain in a holding pattern to allow for more public input and study.

The council decided on a 4-1 vote Wednesday to reopen a public hearing on a proposed rezone 8 1/2 acres on the northwest corner of North Boyer Avenue and Mountain View Drive from industrial technology park to residential single-family and resume discussion of the proposal at its June 19 business meeting.

Councilwoman Shannon Williamson said the city’s comprehensive land use plan provides little guidance on lands which lie within the Bonner County airport’s overlay zone, which is meant to ensure safety around the facility.

“The airport’s influence over adjacent properties is troubling to me,” said Williamson.

Councilman Bill Aitken agreed, noting that county officials have objected to residential developments on some lands ringing the airport but not others. Aitken said the county was silent on Don Eichoff’s proposed rezone from industrial technology park to single-family, so it’s unclear if the county supports or opposes the rezone.

“I would have hoped we would have seen that, but we don’t and I don’t know what to make of that,” said Aitken.

Councilwoman Deb Ruehle was also uneasy with making a decision without additional information.

“I feel like we’re getting a small little snapshot instead of the bigger picture on how this can affect everything in the long run,” she said.

Mayor Shelby Rognstad advocated for reopening the public hearing and said it was clear the council is in need of additional information before proceeding.

“We simply haven’t really heard from enough of the community is what I’m hearing, and I feel the same way. I would like to hear from a larger sector of the community,” said Rognstad.

The decision to reopen and continue the hearing cleared with council with Thomas Eddy casting the lone dissenting vote.

In the meantime, city staff will study how other communities address comprehensive plans and development within an airport overlay zone.

Also on the council’s agenda was a request for reconsideration of Rognstad’s veto last month of an ordinance rezoning another 8 1/2 acres at the airport from Residential single-family to mixed-Use residential. The rezone was requested by Steve and Maureen Tillberg, who own the parcel at the corner of North Boyer Avenue and Schweitzer Cutoff Road.

Rognstad issued the veto to allow for more robust discussion of the proposal.

The Tillbergs contend Rognstad’s veto was based on ex parte communications he received and argued City Code does not allow for additional testimony after the hearing is closed. The couple also contends they have assiduously followed City Code, while the city has not.

“It remains my view that a public hearing before City Council for the purpose of allowing additional public comment on this matter should be conducted before this zone change takes place. If the Tillbergs make a written request for a public hearing, I will schedule one,” Rognstad said.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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