By Lyndsie Kiebert-Carey
Bonner County commissioners voted April 20 to postpone a hearing on reconsideration of a 700-acre zone change in the Selle Valley, leaving the matter undecided for two more weeks because the attorney for Keep Bonner County Rural — the party who filed the reconsideration request — was unable to attend the hearing.
“We have had a hitch-in-the-getalong here, because KBCR’s attorney had to vacate his building because of a gas leak and apparently he can’t get on wifi somewhere else,” said Commissioner Dan McDonald at the top of the April 20 hearing. “The request is to reschedule this hearing for a different date.”
At the recommendation of Deputy Prosecutor Bill Wilson — who wanted to ensure that the county conducted a “hearing that everybody expects and deserves” — commissioners voted unanimously to move the hearing to Wednesday, May 4 at 1:30 p.m. at the Bonner County Administration Building (1500 Highway 2, Sandpoint).
The more than 700 acres in question would be rezoned from 20- to 10-acre minimums, and belong to the Skinner and Otis families, known on their June 2021 zone change application as Pack River Partners, LLC. While opponents of the rezone are concerned about the area being developed and the demands on infrastructure that would follow, applicant Don Skinner has testified that he has no plans to develop. Despite that, the Pack River Partners application cites “landowner flexibility” and the need for “housing for expected population growth” as ways the rezone would qualify under the county’s Comprehensive Plan.
The Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of the zone change in November 2021, referring to infrastructure concerns. The board of county commissioners voted 2-1 in February to approve the rezone, noting that such concerns would be addressed during any future subdivision process.
Commissioners then took up a request for reconsideration from KBCR and concerned neighbors in March, arguing that Idaho’s Local Land Use Planning Act requires governing bodies to consider development impacts as early as the rezone stage. The board voted to hear the reconsideration April 20, but in light of the KBCR attorney’s absence, will now hear it on May 4.
Apart from attending in person, Planning and Zoning hearings can also be attended via the Zoom video conferencing platform by accessing the link on the meeting agenda, once it’s available, at bonnercountyid.gov/bocc-agendas. All hearings are also streamed on the “Bonner County Planning” YouTube channel.
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