Local Republicans are rallying folks to attend Kootenai County's next public workshop on the land use code rewrite, which they fear has been influenced by special interests and will inflict over-regulation.
The aim is for hundreds to attend, said Jennifer Locke, a Kootenai County Republican precinct committee member who has gone door to door to educate folks on the Unified Land Use Code.
"A lot of people I've talked to had no clue about the Comp Plan or the ULUC," Locke said, adding that she has also placed a Nickel's Worth ad about the workshop. "We definitely are trying to get people out there to hear what (the county) has to say."
Scott Clark, director of county Community Development, has no objection to these efforts.
All are welcome to come learn and share concerns at the workshop, Clark said.
"The idea of the workshop is for everyone to bring comment and introduce discussion," he said.
"We welcome everyone's thoughts and ideas, and that's what we're here for."
The county has been writing the ULUC since 2011, with the aid of consultant Kendig Keast Collaborative, LLC.
The code is intended to update county development and land use ordinances to implement the new Comprehensive Plan, a visionary document for future county development.
The ULUC also aims to better clarify and streamline ordinances, some of which have proven contradictory.
The workshop, scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday in Room 1 of the county administration building, will include a presentation and public discussion on what the draft ULUC includes so far.
Locke said her chief concerns are that not enough residents were surveyed during the writing of the Comprehensive Plan itself, and that certain groups and businesses have had special involvement in the writing of the ULUC.
"I'm just concerned it doesn't represent Kootenai County's views, especially within the unincorporated areas," she said.
Her goal is for folks to be aware of what is happening with the ULUC, she said, and to show the county and the consultant that people care.
The Kootenai County Republican Central Committee has also posted information about the upcoming workshop on its website, with a warning letter for county residents.
The letter, titled "Your property rights are about to change," states that the ULUC will have a negative impact in imposing excessive regulation.
The document lists possible outcomes, like all land uses forbidden except those the county approves, and restrictions on where and how much can be built on certain property.
"The only person who is responsible for protecting your property rights is you," the letter reads.
Neil Oliver, central committee chair, also said the committee hopes to hold forums where the commissioners can meet with the public about the code.
Clark said he didn't have any comments on the committee's notice. The county commissioners wrote a press release clearing up the group's misinformation, which The Press published as a My Turn column.
Clark said Locke's description of special interest influence is not what he has seen.
"We've had a very open, transparent process, inviting everyone to the table," he said.
The county has had ongoing workshops on the writing of the ULUC, and created citizens advisory groups for the process.
The code only applies in county areas that aren't part of an incorporated city or town.
Clark noted that the county also plans to hold regional public meetings on the ULUC at different locations, which will likely be scheduled in October.
"What will make it a success is getting everyone involved, so we have the input of our community to help shape the code," Clark said.
If you go
A public workshop on the county Unified Land Use Code will be held from 5-7 p.m. on Wednesday in Room 1 of the county administration building