By Cameron Rasmusson
Sandpoint Council members delayed a declaration of support for a greenprint report on Wednesday following a backlash from several individuals.
Pitched as a report to identify and protect valuable spaces within the community, the greenprint was criticized by several city and county residents as not reflective of the entire region’s values. Some said that planners hadn’t extended enough effort to inform the public or collect varied feedback. They worried that by tying up property through easements, it would make property ownership unaffordable for lower-income families. They also questioned whether the city’s support for the plan would circumvent county authority and affect residents living outside the city limits.
“I would ask the council to table this and get the community involved in this, because there’s a lot in this that is very concerning,” said city resident Anita Aurit.
Others questioned the motives of the Trust For Public Lands, which guided the project with cooperation from several local cities and organizations. They pointed to the Clagstone conservation easement, which Bonner County Commissioner Glen Bailey said took 12,000 acres off the market.
“I like many of the stated objectives [in the report],” he said. “However, I wonder about some of the funding for these conservation easements.”
Resident Steve Holt, on the other hand, supported the report. He said many of the concerns expressed at the meeting were unfounded.
“I think there’s a misconception that easements create a community people can’t afford to live in, and that’s just not true,” he said.
Sandpoint Planning Director Aaron Qualls urged attendees to remember that the report was strictly informational. He said that the council’s support of the measure was not a commitment to any action.
Councilman Stephen Snedden recommended that the measure be tabled a month and recommended that those opposed to the greenprint plan return with data and specific problems within the plan to address. He agreed with the criticism that the perspectives reflected in the plan were probably too narrowly focused but felt the plan’s goals enjoyed broad support overall.
“I’m a little perplexed tonight at the opposition to this report,” he said.
According to the greenprint plan document, its four main goals are maintaining water quality, providing recreation, protecting wildlife habitat and preserve working lands. It identifies 94,500 acres of “special places that are the highest priorities for voluntary conservation because their protection would best meet the community’s goals.”
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