Bonner County P&Z recommends mining code changes

BOCC to vote on amendments at hearing in coming months

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission voted Jan. 7 to recommend proposed changes to Title 12 mining code to the board of county commissioners, which is slated to consider adopting those changes at a public hearing in late February or early March, according to Planning Director Milton Ollerton.

The recommendation moved forward with a 3-1 vote: Commissioners Suzanne Glasoe, Taylor Bradish and Sheryl Reeve voted in favor, while Dave Frankenbach voted against. Commissioner Matt Linscott recused himself due to a “conflict of interest,” and Brian Bailey also did not partake in the vote due to “possible” conflict, according to Ollerton. Acting Chairman Don Davis did not vote, as there was no tie to break.

The code has undergone considerable reworking in the five months, since planning staff’s proposed changes first went before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The amendments would introduce a new permitting method called a certificate of zoning compliance, which would be issued administratively by the planning director and require no public hearing, unlike a conditional use permit.

Under the proposed amendments, existing and temporary mining stone quarries, gravel pits, stone mills and open pits would require only the zoning certificate; new permanent mining stone quarries, gravel pits and stone mills would require a CUP; and rock blasting would be allowed in any permanent quarry.

Ollerton told the Reader in August that Bonner County “continually gets asked to move out of the way of private property owners and the way they choose to use their property,” and the certificate of zoning compliance is one idea to move toward less regulation. Opponents of the proposed code amendments are concerned that planning officials are opening up rural and residential areas to increased industrial uses, and have repeatedly expressed concern about the county moving away from public hearings for certain operations.

During the Jan. 7 hearing, planning commissioners made two edits to their proposed changes: one concerning a timeline for existing surface mines to obtain a certificate of zoning compliance, and the second regarding limits on expansion of nonconforming, natural resource-based uses beyond parcel boundaries.

Review the amended code by visiting bonnercountyid.gov and going to the “Planning” page. Click on “Current Projects’’ and select “File AM0011-20 — Bonner County — Text Amendment, Title 12.” Written comments can be submitted ahead of the BOCC hearing — which has yet to be scheduled — by emailing [email protected]

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