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Camp Bay Estates gets OK from commission

Staff Writer | March 2, 2022 1:00 AM

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SANDPOINT — The legal tangle involving Camp Bay continues to grow in complexity.

On Tuesday, Bonner County commissioners unanimously approved four minor land divisions requested by Camp Bay Estates.

A minor land division is requested by the property owner, and approved by the planning director. MLDs redraw boundary lines within a parcel of land, usually for the purpose of family inheritance. There are a few catches, however. MLDs can only divide a section of land into four sections maximum, the new smaller parcels have to comply with area zoning, and the parcel being divided cannot neighbor another parcel that is also being divided, also called a contiguous MLD.

All four of Camp Bay’s MLDs are located on neighboring parcels. Commissioners approved all of the Camp Bay Estates MLDs on the grounds that the applications were submitted under an older version of county code that allowed contiguous MLDs.

Although documents regarding Camp Bay Estates cannot be found on Bonner County’s website, it was implied at Tuesday’s meeting that the property owner submitted the applications before the code change banning contiguous MLDs was made official.

Commissioner Jeff Connolly asked for clarification on if the lots in question were close to Camp Bay Road, which is also the subject of active litigation in the county.

“Who can answer whether these lots are a portion of the vacation that is now being denied? And are these lots on [Camp Bay] road or involving that road? Because, there are several litigations pending here,” Connolly said.

Members of the planning department assured the commission that Camp Bay Estates is not close to the portions of land involved in other Camp Bay lawsuits.

Amy Scott for the planning department said at the meeting that there are lots between where the vacation is being proposed and where the MLDs are being requested.

Public comment on the matter took up a majority of the commission’s weekly business meeting, with a handful of people going on the record opposing the MLDs. Many who chose to speak allege that the applicant is consciously avoiding the subdivision process that is required for larger-scale land development projects.

County officials addressed concerns raised by citizens about the county code that allowed for contiguous MLDs to begin with.

“These applications were submitted prior to the ordinance changing,” Planning Director Milton Ollerton said. “The code change has been addressed. These types of land divisions will not happen in the future.”

It is not clear what the next steps will be for the applicant and the proposed development, but it is clear that citizens of Bonner County are prepared to put up a fight with property owners, developers, and county officials over the future of the Camp Bay area.

Wilson, Ollerton, and commissioners discussed creating a document containing the MLD applications made under the previous ordinance to give the county an idea of how many future projects may come under similar circumstances.

“To those of you who have raised this valid concern to what is happening, that is a valid criticism. We are all dealing with the unintended consequences of that error,” Wilson said. “The [applications] that were submitted before we changed the law, in my opinion, we are legally obligated to honor them. Even though this might be distasteful, we are obligated to follow the law as it was when these applications were submitted. That may not be very comforting, but it is what it is.”

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