By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Despite Bonner County commissioners voting unanimously in an Aug. 16 executive session to remove Kristina Kingsland from the county’s Zoning Commission, records show that she was not informed of the decision until more than a week later on Aug. 24. Kingsland, who attended a zoning meeting between those dates without knowledge of her removal, spoke at the board’s Aug. 30 business meeting seeking further explanation for her termination from the volunteer position, which she has held since May.
According to Kingsland, she received written notice of her removal on Aug. 29 after “repeated requests” following a phone conversation Aug. 24 with BOCC Chairman Dan McDonald. The written notice states that Kingsland was being removed from the commission due to “failure to follow procedural rules for commissioners regarding due process and ex parte communications,” and “public comments and social media posts showing overwhelming bias regarding land use decisions which resulted in public complaints.”
Kingland pushed back during the public comment portion of the Aug. 30 commissioners business meeting.
“It contained no descriptions of these offenses, nor did it list any of the comments or who complained about them,” she said. “While I am a known passionate advocate for our rural lifestyle and for public access, since my appointment to the Zoning Commission I have been careful to maintain an open mind and professional approach to each and every file presented.”
Leading up to her May appointment to the Zoning Commission, Kingsland had voiced opposition to certain land use files before the county, including a proposal to change acreage minimums on more than 700 acres in the Selle Valley and the hotly contested vacation of Camp Bay Road.
McDonald told the Reader following the Aug. 30 meeting that the delay in notifying Kingsland was because “my schedule had me busy the day we made the decision so it took me a few days to make the call.”
“I’m not really sure how that was an issue to begin with and seems more like a red herring to me,” McDonald wrote in an email.
He added that the board doesn’t “take appointing, and especially removal, of any commission seat lightly,” and, “we tend to keep these things in-house and not make them public.”
“Kristina had expressed that she felt her ‘good name’ was defamed, however she chose to make the issue public at our meeting so I’m confused by her actions,” he continued.
As for the code that dictates the board’s ability to remove commission members, McDonald pointed to that Idaho statute states: “Members may be removed for cause by a majority vote of the governing board.”
“She was given the reasons via the phone conversation and it was outlined in her letter,” McDonald said, adding that “there was more than enough cause for her removal.”
While the extent of the “public complaints” remains unclear in the board’s written statement to Kingsland, McDonald received two emails — one from Camp Bay resident Jim Frank and the other from local real estate broker Eric Skinner — which expressed concern about her possible bias in making land use decisions. However, he shared those emails with Kingsland in May, soon after her appointment, and months from when she would be dismissed.
“I was known to be who I am and even held out as an example of how fair the commissioners were being to have dissenting voices on the commission, and I was warned not to make any statements that were inappropriate,” Kingsland shared in a written statement to the Reader Aug. 31.
“I believe this appointment was not about my ability to serve our community, it was to shut me up or to humiliate me into submission to divert attention away from the real issues facing our county,” she continued, adding later: “I will weather this storm to fight again another day.”
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