County pushes mining code change hearing

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission is tabling a controversial mining ordinance change after an Aug. 20 workshop made clear that the issue was not ready to go before the public at a now canceled Aug. 27 hearing.

“As we prepared for the workshop yesterday, it became apparent that there were still questions that needed addressing,” Planning Director Milton Ollerton told the Sandpoint Reader Aug. 21. “That was also clear in the workshop.”

The proposed change would institute the use of a “certificate of zoning compliance” — similar to a conditional use permit, but instead of requiring a public hearing, the planning director could issue a certificate administratively. Critics of the code change see the ability for the planning director to administratively approve certain mining operations — like batch plants and open pits — as opening the door to increased mining operations across the county with little to no public input.

Ollerton said the workshop saw “productive discussion,” and new ideas will need time for review.

“The Planning Commission stated that their goal was to ‘get it right’ in reference to the ordinance,” he said. “I see them working to achieve that.”

The commission will host more workshops on the ordinance before it holds a public hearing on the matter, possibly in November.

Ollerton said the workshopped ordinance will soon be available to read at bonnercountyid.gov/departments/planning, and the planning department is still taking comments on the matter via email to [email protected]

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