Friday, June 09, 2023

Commissioners consider Coolin development

Staff Writer | August 17, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Is development Coolin down?

Bonner County commissioners began Tuesday’s meeting with public comments against a minor land division, which, critics allege, would cause irreparable damage to the Coolin Wetlands, on the southern shores of Priest Lake.

The commissioners were set to reconsider the minor land division during executive session. They previously approved MLD 0143-21 as part of the June 21 consent agenda.

Among those speaking out against the MLD was Amy Anderson, executive director of the Selkirk Conservation Association.

“In August of last year, 26 new shoreline lots were created by boundary line adjustment with zero oversight from the planning and zoning commission and … the board of commissioners,” Anderson said.

“Now the developer is seeking to further subdivide the rest of the 65-acre parcel with two MLDs into eight 5-acre lots,” Anderson said. “In total, 34 new lots right in the heart of what the state of Idaho considers a Class 1 wetland system of highest conservation priority.”

According to both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Idaho Fish and Game Department, the Coolin Wetlands, also known as Chase Lake, is a Class I conservation area.

Anderson urged the commissioners to vote to re-hear the MLD application.

“Much of what was done in the Coolin Wetlands was done without your oversight,” she added. “[Concerned residents] would like the opportunity to present the many, many reasons these MLDs should be denied by the county.”

Mike Buenig, a property owner from Priest Lake, supported reconsidering the MLD. He referenced the meeting’s opening prayer. “If we want peace in this county and we are inviting God into this county and bring us peace, we should have truth, we should have full disclosure. We should have an open forum.”

Buenig said there are a lot of stakeholders who never had their voices heard. “If it’s a solid deal … then it will handle the scrutiny of the light of day,” he concluded.

Next, 10-time NBA All-Star John Stockton echoed the first two speakers, sharing a concern about transparency. The June 21 meeting was announced “after-hours on a thre- day weekend and it was the first item of business.”

Stockton described scrambling to attend the meeting online, but when he was able to call in by Zoom, he had already missed the time for public comment. As an affected property owner Stockton asked the board to re-hear the application.

Next, the commissioners passed the consent agenda and proceeded with two motions from the GIS department.

Mike Bolling said the GIS department had unforeseen revenue from addressing. He asked for $34,000 of the funds to be reallocated to help purchase a new vehicle for the department. He also introduced a motion to spend over $36,000 for a 2002 Chevy Colorado. Both motions passed.

Next, Bob Howard of Emergency Management introduced a motion to accept almost $13,000 of unforeseen funds from the Idaho Office of Emergency Management. The funds are from the 2020 Supplemental Emergency Performance Grant Award. Howard asked the funds be transferred into the emergency management budget.

Howard also introduced a motion to accept a contract for the treatment of hazardous fuels for the leaverton land preservation. The contract will be paid for by a grant from the Idaho Department of Lands at no cost to Bonner County, according to Howard. The motion passed.

Next, Spencer Ferguson of the Engineering Department introduced a revised contract for a new EMS station and office building on Ontario Street. Now the scope of the project has changed and a second story has been deemed necessary. The contract was approved with H2a Architects on July 21 for $295,500 to design the project. The new design cost was approved by the commissioners and is now $490,000.

Erik Beasley of the Planning Department introduced two items, a boundary line adjustment, and a family division road waiver request. The boundary line adjustment allowed neighbors to exchange about 1.3 acres of each other’s land because one neighbor was encroaching on the other. The family division road waiver request addressed a long-standing access issue for a lot-size variance that was approved last year. Both items passed.

Jason Topp of Road and Bridge introduced a motion to accept a bid from Wood’s Crushing and Hauling for $389,585. The motion passed.

Next, Cindy Binkerd introduced two items for Human Resources. The first was a request to recruit a permit compliance supervisor and a senior planner for the Planning Department. Binkerd also introduced a request for approval of a new AFLAC contract for employee benefits for 2023. Both motions passed.

Then, Recreation Manager Pete Hughes introduced a memorandum of understanding between Bonner County and Priest River to address overflow parking by the Bonner Park West boat launch. The MOU would see the county expand boat launch parking into a 1 1/4-acre field owned by the city. Currently, there are only ten parking spaces available. This MOU would add up to 27 new parking spaces. The motion passed.

Lastly, Jessi Webster, the business operations manager, introduced a motion to issue a letter of support for Clark Fork’s efforts to find grant funding to upgrade the city’s aging water infrastructure. The motion was spurred by Clark Fork mayor Russell Schenck and passed unanimously.

Information: The next business meeting will be held Tuesday, Aug. 23 at 9 a.m. in the Bonner County Administrative Building, 1500 U.S. 2, Sandpoint.

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