Keep BoCo Rural code amendment must be resubmitted

P&Z workshop on application scheduled for March 8

By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Reader Staff

What was meant to be a Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission hearing Feb. 17 to discuss a proposed land use code amendment from Keep Bonner County Rural quickly became a call for a workshop after Commission Chair Brian Bailey pointed out a “flaw” in the application.

“The applicant needs to be either a citizen or property owner in Bonner County,” Bailey said, referring to the county’s revised code. 

“Keep Bonner County Rural is not a citizen nor a property owner, therefore they are going to have to redo their application and resubmit it, and we’ll have to notice it, and then staff will have to change the report that reflects the correct address and maker of the file,” he said.

The application will now go through a workshop at the Bonner County Administration Building on Tuesday, March 8 at 4:30 p.m.

KBCR’s proposed code amendment, which the group announced in a media release Nov. 24, would “create stricter standards for justifying changes to current zoning” and “slow the flurry of zone changes that have been approved in recent months, which has led to increased density and development in the county’s rural areas.” 

The newly formed group has become a vocal opponent of many proposed changes that, members argue, go against the county’s Comprehensive Plan. While the applicant on the code amendment file is listed as KBCR, the representative on the application is Dave Bowman, the group’s chairman.

The staff report posted to the county website prior to the Feb. 17 hearing — now moot, seeing as KBCR must resubmit its application — recommends that the P&Z Commission deny the application, as it is “an attempt to cure an illness by only treating the symptoms.”

“The spirit of this proposal is clear: The applicant believes there are issues with local land use planning in the county, and the applicant believes that these issues need to be fixed. The Bonner County Planning Department agrees with this fundamental assessment,” the staff report stated. “However, this proposal is not the way to fix these issues. A fundamental reevaluation of community goals, values and priorities is needed, and this needs to be laid out in a revised Comprehensive Plan.”

Following that, “Staff encourages the applicants in this case to become involved in the Comprehensive Plan update process currently ongoing in the county,” the report added. “It is through this process that a new vision for Bonner County can be laid out and achieved.”

The report goes on, in its conclusions of law, to determine that the proposed KBCR code amendment “is not in accord” with Idaho Code or the Bonner County Comp Plan.

P&Z Commissioner Don Davis suggested the March 8 workshop.

“It might be better to have a workshop with the group to discuss these things,” he said, “because we can’t just get into the wording in the application now, but if we can do that in a workshop it is going to give all of us more latitude.”

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