Hoodoo Valley zone change denied

County commissioners will make the final decision

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended denial of a requested comprehensive plan amendment and zone change Feb. 4, affecting 160 acres in the Hoodoo Valley where Hayden-based Daum Construction, LLC hopes to build homes on five-acre parcels.

The proposal, which would have changed the property’s zoning designation from Agricultural/Forestry to Rural Residential and allowed for the land to be pieced into five-acre parcels, drew strong opposition from many Hoodoo Valley residents, 111 of whom signed a petition against the file. Of the 18 written comments the county received regarding the project, 17 were opposed. Spirit Lake Fire District was the only official agency to express concerns about the zone change, arguing that the area would need two points of access/egress and a traffic analysis should be conducted on Spirit Lake Cutoff Road — where the property is located — to determine how the increase in home density would affect the roadway, which has seen a recent increase in vehicle crashes. The fire district also shared that “due to current traffic load, our emergency response has been hampered in those areas.”

Recommending denial, planner Tessa Vogel presented the planning staff’s analysis of the proposals, stating that the comp plan amendment and zone change “would not be appropriate per the goals, objectives and policies of the Bonner County Comprehensive Plan, as that change would allow for the potential building of five-acre minimums where 10 and 20 acres is appropriate.”

Tiffanie Espe, a representative for the project from Hayden-based Advanced Technology Surveying, told the commission after the staff report that Daum Construction was taking into account some smaller lots northeast of their property, and “thought that would possibly allow for this zone change to be approved.”

“The owner has no intentions of creating hardships for anyone,” Espe continued. “We respectfully disagree that the five-acre minimums would diminish rural character.”

Hoodoo Valley residents who offered public comments during the Feb. 4 hearing were all opposed to the project, many referring to Spirit Lake Cutoff Road’s limited capacity for traffic and questioning the ability of the local water supply to support upward of 30 more wells.

“I know everybody wants to move to our area, and the quality of life here is phenomenal, and I hate to see that in jeopardy,” said Michael Hogan, a neighbor of the Daum Construction acreage. “What everybody is talking about — limited hospitals, traffic, noise, having neighbors, the elk, the moose, everything that travels through there — all that’s going to be disrupted. I really, really hope you guys do the right thing and keep Bonner County, Bonner County. … 

“I don’t want our area destroyed because of somebody making money, somebody just looking at the benefit of their pocket instead of the beauty of our area,” he added.

Espe declined a chance to offer rebuttal to the public comments before the planning commission went into deliberation.

Commission Chair Don Davis emphasized that while the proposed comp plan amendment and zone change would allow for five-acre parcels within Daum Construction’s 160 acres, the property’s current zoning already allows for development on 10-acre parcels.

“That could happen tomorrow — 16 more houses, 16 more lots, 16 more families, 16 more wells … right then and there,” Davis said.

The commission ultimately followed the staff recommendation for the proposed changes, unanimously recommending denial. The file will now go before the Bonner County Board of Commissioners for a final decision on March 10 at 1:30 p.m.

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