County commissioners to decide on RV zoning changes

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Bonner County commissioners denied a request Dec. 3 from the county’s Planning and Zoning Commission to continue workshopping a portion of county code pertaining to the permanent use of recreational vehicles on private property. In a decision that ultimately came down to timeliness, the commissioners will consider those code changes at a hearing Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. at the Bonner County Administration Building.

When planners held a hearing Nov. 21 to consider changes to RV land use code, the planning commission arrived at a split recommendation — in a unanimous vote, they chose to recommend a portion of code changing requirements for commercial RV parks and campgrounds, but to request a time extension to further work on language regarding private, permanent RV use. The meeting drew a packed audience, as several residents made comments about how the county shouldn’t be regulating private RV use at all.

“The [planning] commission asked for those sections back so that they could work on those a little bit further, so this decision today is whether or not the [B]oard [of County Commissioners] should consider the entire file or a portion of the file and send [the private RV use portion] back to P&Z,” said Planning Director Milton Ollerton at the BOCC meeting Dec. 3.

Due to time constraints, Ollerton said the Planning Department has already advertised a hearing scheduled for Dec. 18, so county commissioners were deciding whether to decide on the entire set of RV ordinance changes at that hearing, or to only hear the portion that P&Z sent forward with a recommendation. If commissioners chose to send a portion back, the planners would need to hold another hearing after workshopping the language, followed by another BOCC hearing to make the final decision on those changes.

If commissioners sent the ordinance back for further workshopping, Ollerton said, “it would probably take until February [or] March” before any final decisions were made, seeing as each hearing has to be advertised ahead of time.

Commissioner Jeff Connolly asked Ollerton why there was such a “big rush” to finalize the ordinances, to which Ollerton replied, “not so much a rush, it just comes down to the cost of doing business” — that cost including publishing hearing notices

As Connolly and Commissioner Dan McDonald considered whether to deny the P&Z’s request — Commissioner Steven Bradshaw was not present — Connolly said he was concerned that it would look like BOCC was “circumventing” the planning commission’s process.

“Not really, because they’re just making a recommendation,” McDonald said. “It’s really ultimately our decision anyway.”

Bonner County Deputy Prosecutor Bill Wilson said that should county commissioners decide to take up the ordinance changes in their entirety at the Dec. 18 meeting, anyone with concerns or suggestions regarding private RV use changes can still be heard.

“[They] can come to your guys’ meeting and make the exact same criticisms and offer the same changes to you directly,” he said.

McDonald and Connolly both voted in favor of addressing private and commercial RV code changes at the Dec. 18 hearing, denying the planning commission’s time extension request.

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