De-annexed Priest River properties see zone change, end to land-use moratorium

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

Bonner County commissioners repealed a moratorium May 23 against land-use actions on property de-annexed from the city of Priest River.

A moratorium was placed on the approximately 875 acres in December 2022 because, upon de-annexation, the property lacked a zoning designation. Bonner County Planning Director Jake Gabell explained at an April 18 planning commission hearing that, without official zoning, Bonner County’s planners could not regulate what happened on the property. Because of that, a moratorium was placed.

At the April 18 hearing, the commission voted to recommend designating the land “Rural Residential” and zoning it to five- and 10-acre minimums. The planning department collaborated with landowners, Gabell said, to settle on the R-5 and R-10 zoning. Bonner County was the official applicant requesting the changes.

Bonner County commissioners voted unanimously May 10 to approve the planning commission’s recommendations.

With the county’s Comprehensive Plan and zoning maps amended to reflect the changes, a moratorium was no longer needed in order to mitigate the “risk to the health, safety and welfare of neighboring residents” should property owners opt to take land use actions the county could not legally regulate without zoning in place. Gabell proposed an end to the moratorium at the commissioners’ May 23 business meeting, and the motion passed unanimously.

The property — located off Highway 2, Eastside Road and East Settlement Road just east of Priest River city limits — features flat, open areas as well as some sloped, timbered land, and is currently used mostly for agricultural purposes. At the April 18 hearing, landowner John Conolly said he did not have plans to develop the property, but was working with the county to “make it where it makes sense.”

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