By Cameron Rasmusson
A packed Sandpoint City Council meeting became contentious on Wednesday as North Idaho residents debated the merits of a Greenprint plan.
Attendees spilled out into the City Hall lobby to speak for or against the document, a collection of data identifying land suitable for conservation through various methods including property easements. At times, the meeting got testy, with plan opponents booing Mayor Shelby Rognstad when he asked who supported the plan’s stated goals: maintaining water quality, providing recreation, protecting wildlife habitat and preserving working lands.
Council members ultimately voted for the report after cutting a section laying out an action plan, saying that Sandpoint residents largely supported the decision. However, Councilman Bob Camp offered vigorous opposition, saying the document exceeded the scope of its memorandum of understanding by extending into county land.
The Greenprint sparked controversy in early January when county residents said their voices had been shut out of the data collection process despite its impact on county land. They also worried that tying up properties through easements could create a scarcity problem and drive up property costs.
That proved the most persistent criticism this week, with Bonner County Commissioner Dan MacDonald saying the county hadn’t been included in the planning process. Rognstad clarified that former county planner Clare Marley had been a part of the team, although opponents later observed she wasn’t an elected official.
Other opponents claimed the Greenprint was dishonest in its motives. Some said it was government overreach at best, while others believed it was part of a globalist, United Nations-driven agenda to move people off rural lands and into cities. Cornel Rasor, a former county commissioner, said conservation easements are a popular method to flip land into government ownership.
City staff and many Greenprint supporters stressed that the document was only a collection of information and did not obligate the city to any action. They stressed that no landowner could be coerced into participating in conservation easements. Business owners said they appreciated the informational tools it provided for conservation and quality-of-life protection, which they said were valuable tools in attracting employees or new business into town.
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