City ponders airport-area rezoning

By Cameron Rasmusson
Reader Staff

A battle between a local couple and the city of Sandpoint over a rezoning request continues to unfold following a Wednesday night council meeting.

According to property owners Steve and Maureen Tillberg, they began the property rezoning process to change from residential single family to mixed-use residential early this year. Their intention was to sell the parcels for development into affordable housing. But they were surprised and disappointed when Mayor Shelby Rognstad vetoed their request approval by Sandpoint City Council last month. According to Rognstad, his veto was motivated in part by concern that the public didn’t have enough opportunity to comment on the rezone request — an opinion he maintains after a request for reconsideration Wednesday night.

The Tillbergs emphasize that they are not pursuing any development of the property. Rather, they’re seeking to sell it, and any developer intending to move forward with a project would have to have it approved separately by the city.

The parcels are located near the north end of Sandpoint Airport but are not adjacent to it. Nevertheless, letters from the Bonner County commissioners and Independent Highway District expressed some concern about the well-being of residents living in close proximity of the airport. Likewise, Granite Aviation owner Andrew Berrey is similarly worried about potential impact on airport operations, particularly when it comes to Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

But the Tillbergs said their team of planners have done their due diligence in pursuing the rezone request.

“Steve and I have spent six months and thousands of dollars applying for this zone change,” Maureen Tillberg wrote in an email. “Our Certified Land Planner, Marty Taylor, researched all applicable city, county, FAA, and Federal codes, ordinances, laws, policies, which would apply to this application and found this request consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan.”

Council members evaluated a similar rezoning request on Wednesday by applicant Don Eickhoff to have property near the airport rezoned from industrial technology park to residential single family. They ultimately tabled the request to reopen the public hearing and acquire more information on development near airports and its connection to the Sandpoint Comprehensive Plan. 

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