Planning Commission recommends chapters for approval, reviews others

SANDPOINT – The Bonner County Planning Commission is recommending changes to county property rights and recreation policies for approval by the Bonner County Board of Commissioners.

At the November 1 meeting, only cosmetic changes were made to the two chapters, which are part of the proposed changes to the county’s overall plan. If structural revisions had been made, the Planning Commission would have had to wait to recommend the changes for approval at their next meeting, scheduled for November 15.

Commission Chairman Alan Songstad determined that the current version of the property rights chapter reflects the commission’s draft goals, objectives and policies for this chapter. Other than referencing the Idaho Regulatory Levies Act and Idaho Code 67-65 that govern land use policy, Songstad made no revisions.

If few changes were made to the chapter on property rights, this was not the case for the one on recreation. Commissioner Debby Trinen told the commission she had to change the recreational component because it “looked like a Bonner County outdoor guide.”

She said she chose to reduce the number of recreation locations included in the compensation plan to only the recreation areas mentioned in the sub-area plans.

“It’s a guide that should be distributed to the chamber of commerce,” Trinen said.

Trinen told the Planning Commission that the previous version contained outdated information on national fishing and hunting regulations, as well as a long list of recreational areas. However, this information was deemed irrelevant to the compensation plan, which must address land use actions and regulations under the Idaho Land Use Policy Act.

Trinen said she added an introduction that highlights the importance of protecting the ecological integrity of the area while allowing for recreational activities.

“As population and visitation to the area inevitably increases, there will be an increased need/pressure to identify areas for businesses to establish to serve the community, as well as to protect access to recreational opportunities during the development,” Trinen wrote.

Trinen said she seeks to promote “diverse recreational opportunities while preserving the scenic character and ecological systems of the area.” However, she also advocated for expanded development on water. “Water-based commerce along the coastline should be encouraged, as long as its operations do not degrade adjacent property values, do not degrade water quality,” she added.

These amendments were passed on October 18 and recommended for approval by the county commissioners on November 1. The first possible hearing at which the commissioners could approve the revisions to these two chapters is November 23. This hearing, which is hypothetically the last hearing in the process, will be open to public comment. If county commissioners determine that the chapters have not been properly reviewed, they could make their own changes and hold a second public hearing.

Other chapters have had suggested changes and are still under review. The community design chapter, an addition to the compensation plan, is expected to be recommended to the board on Nov. 15.

The chapter’s goal is to “preserve the natural features and rural atmosphere” of Bonner County. To do this, Songstad, who is writing the chapter, said the county should implement design and development standards that address “waterfront setbacks, commercial and industrial landscaping , reduced lighting, cluster development, rural rather than urban setback standards”. as well as other “design objectives” consistent with the rural and natural character of the county.

Due to the different stages of the adoption process for the different chapters, public comments are only permitted for some of the agenda items. Tuesday’s meeting will not allow public comment on the community design, as that part of the meeting is strictly about whether to recommend the Chapter to the Board.

The chapters on school facilities, transport and agriculture will also be discussed on Tuesday. School facilities and transportation are open for public comment, as they have already been discussed once by the Planning Commission. The agriculture chapter is being presented for the first time and will not be open for public comment until the next meeting on 29 November.

Commissioner Don Davis revises the chapters on transportation and school facilities. Commissioner Dave Frankenbach revises the agriculture chapter.

For a more detailed breakdown of the full plan writing process, see the October 26 article “County Comp Plan: What’s going on” where County Planning Director Jacob Gabell sat down with the bee to clarify the multi-step process. (Gabell is not in charge of the drafting process, rather he serves the commission in an advisory capacity.)

To read the current compensation plan and proposed revisions, go to

The next Planning Commission meeting will be held November 15 at 4:30 p.m. in the Third Floor Conference Room of the Bonner County Administration Building, 1500 US 2, Sandpoint.

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