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BOCC moves forward with RV campground project

by LAUREN REICHENBACH
Staff Writer | July 26, 2023 1:00 AM

Two motions made by Commissioner Asia Williams regarding the future of the proposed RV campground near the Bonner County Fairgrounds were shot down at Tuesday’s commissioner meeting.

Williams’s first motion was that the commissioners would not submit another grant application for the construction of the campground without first formulating a plan with the Bonner County Fair Board, which currently opposes the campground. Without its support and cooperation, Williams said there was no point in forcing a project that many people do not want.

So far, Williams said the board of commissioners has paid roughly $8,000 to Sewell Engineering for various work regarding the planned construction; roughly $1,400 of that cost was for the rezoning application that the Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission voted to deny July 18.

“When the rezone request was discussed from this board, it was stated that we need to rezone the property in order to do this campground,” Williams said. “But the rezone was clearly not required because it was denied.”

Williams made the motion but it was not seconded and therefore died.

The commissioner’s second motion was to withdraw the rezoning application for the parcel of property that the proposed campground will sit on.

“It is my position that we should not actually push forward to the next level to incur another cost that we have to pay for that doesn’t further the overall goal,” she said. “It is unfortunate that the board is insistent on this particular continued push when we are being told no by the [state] level and now the city level.”

To this, Commissioner Luke Omodt responded that the Sandpoint City Council has yet to approve or deny the rezoning applications. The only department that has looked at the applications thus far has been the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission — which Omodt said has no regulatory authority.

Omodt said he was not in favor of withdrawing the application because doing so would not be in the best interest of county residents.

Williams questioned why Omodt and Commissioner Steve Bradshaw were adamant about moving forward with the project and spending more taxpayer dollars if both the fair board and many of the county’s citizens were not interested in the campground.

“I firmly believe that it is in the best, long-term interest of Bonner County, its residents and all of us to continue with it because the rezone application and part of the denial was based upon building housing,” Omodt responded. “There has never been a conversation nor am I aware that there will ever be a conversation about putting housing on that plot of land.”

After this, Omodt called the question, which is used to end debate and bring an item to an immediate vote. However, Williams stated that he could not call to question just to bypass discussion and as the minority voice on the board, she had a right to deliberation per Robert’s Rules of Order.

“You have not actually answered my question about incurring bills for this project at this time,” she said. “Why are we paying money right now? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to disengage from Sewell Engineering, pull the zone application back and then make a plan with the fair board? Because a sticking point for this grant extension [denial] has specifically to do with their desire to not move forward.”

Omodt restated the motion Williams had made regarding the withdrawal of the application, to which she again demanded additional deliberation and an answer to the question.

“Deliberation is not a back-and-forth where we continue to argue in regards to whose position is what,” he said. “I have stated my position multiple times throughout the past six months. My position has not changed.”

However, Williams said that while Omodt may be talking, he is still not answering the questions she is directly asking him and again said Robert’s Rules of Order required that he answer her question. If Omodt wanted to move to suspend the rules of order to bypass Williams’s questions, that is something she said he was more than welcome to do. But until then, she required an answer.

“Okay, at this point, I’ll call for a roll call vote which will put an end to all that,” Commissioner Steve Bradshaw interceded.

Williams again said that according to the rules, he was not allowed to call for a vote to bypass her discussion.

“Actually, I just did,” Bradshaw replied.

Williams stated that a roll call vote to bypass discussion was only allowed if the commissioners were sitting there talking in circles, which she said was not currently the case. The only thing she wanted, she said, was a direct answer from Omodt.

“Is he not answering or do you just not like the answer?” Bradshaw asked.

The chairman then called for a 10-minute recess that would end the regular meeting and send the commissioners into an executive session.

“Robert’s Rules does not allow you to call for a recess to bypass,” Williams argued.

However, this did not deter Bradshaw.

“I believe it just did,” he said, leaving his seat and preparing to walk out of the room. “Thank you very much.”