By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Bonner County commissioners will once again hear an application from developer M3 ID Camp Bay, LLC to vacate the last 2,550 feet of Camp Bay Road on Monday, Dec. 19 at 9 a.m. — but this third installment of the application features a twist, as M3 is proposing a public pathway to Lake Pend Oreille be built in exchange for the vacation.
Commissioners originally approved vacating the end of Camp Bay Road in April 2021, deeming it to be “in the public interest” to grant ownership to M3, which owns a major development in the bay. After Fred and Jennifer Arn, who live on the road, petitioned a judge to review the decision, the application was remanded back to the board and heard again in February 2022 — this time, denied on the grounds that the commissioners were uncertain as to whether Camp Bay Road provided public access to the lake.
M3 petitioned for judicial review in March, and First District Court Judge Cynthia K.C. Meyer remanded the issue back to the Bonner County commissioners in September. In a revised application, M3 is proposing a public easement in the form of a “natural dirt trail measuring between four feet to six feet in width” starting about a half mile before the road’s current end.
“This hearing, which has been ordered by the Bonner County District Court, will focus solely on the proposed walking path and its impact on the public interest in the proposed vacation,” Bonner County stated in its notice for the Dec. 19 public hearing, which had originally been scheduled for Nov. 22. “Validating the terminus point of Camp Bay Road is not the intended purpose of this hearing, and the Bonner County Board of Commissioners will not consider evidence or testimony offered on that topic.”
According to the developer’s updated application, the proposed path would be open to non-motorized use from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day. Use conditions would include keeping dogs on leashes; no litter, fires or overnight camping; and use of only non-motorized watercraft at the lake access point.
M3’s proposed pathway would lead to 50 feet of shoreline — the same width that proponents of existing public access lay claim to; but, rather than being located at the center of the bay where Camp Bay Road currently ends, this proposed access would be located in the southern corner.
On their website, 50feet.net, the Arns have come out against the new proposal. A post on the site about the upcoming hearing states that the issue “will again center on whether it is in the public’s interest to give up the current road access to the lake located on prime Camp Bay real estate with expansive views or exchange all that for a gated [half]-mile dirt path to the far corner of Camp Bay, controlled by the HOA …”
“We the public, get to decide,” the post concludes. “Camp Bay [Road] is owned by the taxpayers of Bonner County, not M3, and not the Bonner County Commissioners.”
The pathway proposal is available to read on the Bonner County website at bonnercountyid.gov/FileVS0002-21. A staff report is not currently available for the file, but Bonner County Planning Department Hearing Coordinator Jenna Crone confirmed that “any more documents related to this file will be uploaded to the website prior to the hearing,” which will take place at the Bonner County Administration Building on Monday, Dec. 19 at 9 a.m.
Those wishing to submit public comment on the proposal are asked to send in written statements no later than seven days before the hearing by mailing to 1500 Highway 2, Suite 208, Sandpoint, Idaho 83864; faxing to 866-537-4935 or emailing [email protected]
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