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Public hearing scheduled for code changes on Sand Creek setbacks

| February 20, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — The city has scheduled a public hearing next month to review proposed setbacks along Sand Creek, for March 16.

Previously, all structures along Sand Creek had to maintain a 25-foot vegetative setback from the high water mark of the creek. The mark has been established at full summertime pool elevation of 2,062 feet. The downtown waterfront is defined as the area on both sides of Sand Creek from the U.S. 95 bypass bridge north of the Cedar Street Bridge.

In addition, uncovered porches and previous decks may encroach into this setback a maximum of 15 feet. Structures utilizing this encroachment will be required to maintain permeable erosion control material on any area encroached upon. A maximum 5-foot improved previous sidewalk to any pedestrian pathway connecting to Sand Creek is exempt from the vegetative buffer requirement.

The proposed update would allow buildings to be built to the property line along their primary frontage. A 10-foot setback allowance shall be approved when setback areas are developed as a civic space. An additional 15-foot setback for areas developed as a civic space will require approval through the conditional use permit process.

New guidelines would prohibit property owners from performing site improvement and/or disturbances without first obtaining a permit with the city. All buildings within the downtown waterfront shall be reviewed by the city for consistency with adopted planning documents, according to the proposed amendments.

City issued permits shall be conditioned accordingly to support best management practices and compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws and guidelines, including but not limited to erosion and sediment control; riparian areas; wetlands; water quality; and fish, wildlife and plant habitats.

The proposed amended code also said that the conditional use permit process shall recognize Sand Creek as a national environment feature of major importance that shall remain protected. Development shall be commensurate with the physical character of Sand Creek and protect fish, wildlife, recreation resources and avoid undue water and air pollution. In addition the city shall notify applicable federal and state agencies of proposed construction on properties adjacent to Sand Creek.

“The Idaho Department of Environmental Equality has a lot of provisions and adoptive practices. So, while our code may not go into specificity on all state regulations and best practices, those provisions allow us to rely on them and incorporate them in our permits,” Amanda Wilson development services director said.

Councilman Jason Welker commended staff in their presentation and writing of the code. Welker was the chair Planning & Zoning in the fall and first began the process of updating this code.

“I am impressed on how this has evolved and responded to the feedback that the [P&Z] commission provided, which came from the public,” he said.

He said upon re-reading the comprehensive plan that this code does a good job of fulfilling the items of preserving and protecting Sandpoint’s natural resources.

Councilman Andy Groat wanted to thank the citizenry for their input during this process.

“Good job, thanks for showing up and just continue to be patient and be kind with everyone as we go through this,” he said.

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