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Planning seeks to amend county code

Staff Writer | September 14, 2022 1:00 AM

SANDPOINT — Bonner County Planning is seeking to make changes to its zoning and recording policies.

The amendments, which will be presented for discussion Sept. 21, would clarify and expedite alterations to the zoning map. Bonner County Planning Department officials said that Amendment 0007-22 would clarify and expedite alterations to the zoning map.

The amendment had been scheduled for a hearing by Bonner County commissioners on June 23 but was stayed for a later date because of clerical issues, Commission Chair Dan McDonald said.

The amendment in its current form would remove the requirement to record preconditions of industrial zoning and developments with the county recorder. Currently, the Bonner County Revised Code states in the “industrial district” subchapter of its zoning policies that additional requirements for compatibility with surrounding uses, and for the sake of the health and safety of the public may be required. However, where the code states that these requirements “shall be recorded in the office of the county recorder and noted on the supplemental zoning map” (12-326), would be struck from the code.

County planner Chad Chambers said this was an oversight after he tweaked the text proposal following the June hearing. Chambers said he meant to strike only “and noted on the supplemental zoning map” bringing it into line with the broader language. He said the incorrect language would be addressed at the amendment’s hearing.

County commissioners and the Planning or Zoning commissions would still be able to require the meeting of certain conditions before a development occurs, but those conditions would not be registered with the County Recorder’s Office.

The county still would “require the execution of a written commitment concerning the use or development of the subject parcel” for plots with additional conditions, but it is unclear where or with whom such a written statement would be recorded, if not with the county recorder.

The amendment would also strike the ability of the board of commissioners to adopt “supplementary official zoning district maps to portray particular areas or zone districts at an appropriate scale” as well as the requirement to have these supplemental maps available to the public (BCRC 12-313).

The Planning Department also seeks to clarify language in another section of code to make amendments to the zoning map “effective immediately upon publication,” rather than upon the entry of the change to the zoning map, as is currently required.

According to Chambers, the intent of the amendment is to expedite implementation of zoning changes, noting that the online zoning map is now more important than physical maps, can be updated more rapidly and, in many ways, rendered physical as well as supplemental zoning maps obsolete since the online map can be zoomed in.

Additional concerns have been brought by rural advocates with regards to the details of noticing requirements of the amendment.

The amendment would add “shall be made available in an electronic format for the public to view,” this additional language was not posted in red.

Some residents wrote county legal advisor Bill Wilson to ask why. When proposed, text amendments to the county code are posted on the county website, added or removed text are recommended to be and usually are shown in red to highlight the changes. The above quoted language is posted in black. However, Chambers said this issue was a simple clerical error that will also be addressed at the hearing.

Another concern raised by rural advocates was that while a staff report is required one week before the hearing, the deadline for comment from area agencies is only five days. Comments from area agencies make up the bulk of the staff report, which should be completed on Sept. 14 and should already have integrated the comments from the various agencies with jurisdiction in Bonner County.

According to the “agency routing memo,” the deadline given by the county to these agencies (such as the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality and the Panhandle Health District) is set for Sept. 16.

INFO: To read the proposed text amendments, application, and other related documents, search “AM0007-22” on The hearing will be at 1:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 at the County Administrative Building 1500 U.S. 2, Sandpoint.