Application for a new zone in the Selle Valley rejected unanimously
▶ ️ Listen to this article now.
SANDPOINT – After a three-and-a-half-hour workshop on Thursday evening, the planning and zoning commission unanimously rejected a 720-hectare Selle surrounding zone application.
The application requested the rededication of 714.23 hectares in the Selle valley from Ag / Forest-20 to Ag / Forest-10. Submitted by Don and Julie Skinner and James and Diane Otis, collectively known as Pack River Partners LLC, the application states that the perimeter would allow owners “usable options for the parcels as well as the surrounding area.”
The surrounding land is zoned with Ag / Forest-20 on all sides, except for a portion to the west, zoned with Ag / Forest-10.
Don Provo, representative of Pack River Partners LLC, spoke out in favor of the permit, saying the move was similar to past zoning the property and explaining the zoning history of the area at the beginning of the meeting.
“Before 1978, there was no zoning out there,” Provo said. “Two years later they attached an Ag-10. It remained Ag-10 until 2008. [For] For 28 years the land on which we are applying for a zone change was at least 10 hectares in size. “
“My customer bought this property in 1996. When he bought it, it was enclosed in Ag 10. He didn’t want his property changed from 10 to 20, ”he continued. “I know people like open spaces, but that’s still private property.”
A short story filed with the Planning and Zoning Bureau on May 24 described the land as “semi-rural,” and Pack River Partners said a reallocation of the property could help alleviate the housing shortage in Bonn County.
“The proposed zoning will help focus growth in an area where there are adequate public services, as well as for economic growth and affordable housing,” the document reads.
Planning and zoning commissioners interviewed Provo about the request, including the reasons for the need for the zoning change.
“He wants to go in there and bet a tens or two so he can keep a bigger area for what he’s doing,” Provo replied. “He’s not a developer, so it stayed big and now he’s trapped in this 20-acre web.”
The response prompted Commissioner Suzanne Glasoe to wonder why the applicant would request a zone change if she did not intend to develop it, which resulted in the audience cheering for standing room only.
“It has been said a couple of times that he is not a developer and will not develop it. And I look at the application and it is in direct contradiction to your information, “said Glasoe. “If he doesn’t develop it, I don’t know why we’re all here tonight.”
Informing the commission that the answer boils down to offering options to landowners, Provo added that Pack River Partners LLC wanted to split the land into Ag / Forest-10 because they were unsure if they would do so in the future would do.
“Usually it gets harder and harder to do what you want to do. It’s just looking ahead, it’s just about getting private land while he has the options, “Provo said.
The proposed new zone attracted much comment, 29 people chose to speak, and many others gave up their time so that those who spoke could speak for longer than their allotted three minutes. All of the comments – which together lasted 90 minutes – were against the proposed zone change. Concerns included whether the request was in line with the overall plan, the ability to provide services to the potential homes, and wells that had dried up in the valley. Many urged the Commission to follow the code and not change it.
“This county’s moral values are on the block here,” said Jeanelle Shields. “If we lose the vision of the Selle Valley Comprehensive Plan to the developers, it is not planning, and it is certainly not progress, it is poor management.”
Keep Bonner County Rural and Kaniksu Land Trust officials both urged the Planning Commission to reject the application.
“This corridor is an important part of the Selle Valley’s rural fabric,” said Kay Fox on behalf of the Kaniksu Land Trust. “The decision to double the permissible density on these areas would have a significant impact on the rural character of this valley in the future.”
“This is an example of replenishment in a truly valued area,” said Susan Drumheller, a member of Keep Bonner County Rural. “People are starting to see their way of life change and resources are being degraded.”
Other members of Keep Bonner County Rural chose to speak as well.
“Are our zoning regulations in Bonn County a facade, just an illusion?” Said Don Holland. “This type of zone change should be the rare exception rather than the rule. And unfortunately I believe that we see the opposite. “
The planning and zoning committee discussed for almost an hour after public comments.
They considered partially approving or denying the application. They also discussed the definitions of Ag / Forest-20 versus Ag / Forest-10 and what a prospective development could do with the services available in the valley.
“I agree that we do not have enough information about the impact on services in the region,” said Commissioner Dave Frankenbach. “I don’t think we have enough information here given the extent of it.”
“Do both major map changes and zone changes need to be decided within 10 days?” Asked Commissioner Don Davis.
Another member of the planning and zoning department replied that this was due to a code change in the recent past.
“So we’re under pressure to make a decision within 10 days of today,” said Davis.
“The other difficult thing,” said Davis, “when someone applies for rejection, then that person has to tell why the law’s conclusions are not there.”
Shortly thereafter, Frankenbach applied to refuse the zone change because it did not match the land use of the overall plan for the area. Frankenbach cited a lack of public services, implementation, natural resources, transportation, and school facilities in the area in his denial motion.
“The proposal does not conform to Title 12 of the Revised Bonner County’s Code. The decision is based on the information in the personnel report and the testimony of witnesses at this hearing, ”said Frankenbach.
Two commissioners gave Frankenbach’s proposal a second vote. The commission unanimously rejected the change to the Selle Valley Zone.
The next step for Pack River Partners LLC is to file a new application with the planning department.