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KBCR, Planning & Zoning work together on land use

by ANNISA KEITH
Staff Writer | March 24, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Even in the midst of big changes to county land use commissions, citizen groups continue the conversation on growth and development with the outgoing commission.

Although members of the Planning and Zoning Commission held their final meeting last week, they met Tuesday afternoon for a workshop with members from local grassroots organization, Keep Bonner County Rural, to discuss their desired changes to the land use portion of county code, also known as Title 12.

The 200-plus page document functions as the final word on what can and cannot be built in the county.

During the workshop, KBCR collected input from the current Planning and Zoning Commission, Planning Director Milton Ollerton, and Deputy Prosecutor Bill Wilson on the precise language of their proposed amendment.

KBCR’s Title 12 amendment was submitted to the county in November, but has been delayed twice in the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s workshop.

“The proposed amendment would create stricter standards for justifying changes to current

Zoning,” said Susan Drumheller in a KBCR press release in February.

Dave Bowman, chairman of KBCR, also outlined the need for amending the ordinance.

“I don’t think this is poorly written code,” Bowman said, “but there’s wiggle room left in it. And If we had county commissioners who were interested in upholding the comprehensive plan we wouldn’t have had to write this code.”

Most of the meeting’s attendees were county employees or KBCR members. Active discussion regarding the purpose of an official land use map, the role of the comprehensive plan, and standards of review, dominated the three-hour meeting.

KBCR expressed their goal to restrict growth in the county in order to allow planning officials more time to establish county codes that prevent “unnecessary” growth, and bolster the goal of retaining rural characteristics in the county.

Even though the word “moratorium” was frequently thrown around during the meeting, both sides agreed that a freeze on zone changes would be difficult to legally justify, on top of failing to adequately address the core problem within the growth and development debate.

“If everybody’s not on board with how this community’s supposed to grow, [a moratorium] is not going to work,” Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Brian Bailey said. “We gotta come together as a community — not just the community of the county, but the whole community including all of the cities.”

After today, KBCR will finish refining the amendment language before submitting it to the Planning Department. The matter will go before county commissioners after roughly 47 days after the application is submitted.

Keep Bonner County Rural is a self-described group that aims to restrict urban sprawl, keep rural density low, and reduce “unbridled growth” in the community.

To read the current version of Title 12, or other county code, go to the county’s website at BonnerCountyID.gov/departments/planning, select the “County Code” button at the bottom of the webpage.

To learn more about Keep Bonner County Rural, go to their website at KeepBonnerCountyRural.org or visit their Facebook page.

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