Input sought at land use workshop - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

Input sought at land use workshop

Group hopes to have hundreds attend meeting

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Posted: Tuesday, September 4, 2012 12:15 am

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

For more information about the Unified Land Use Code, go to: For workshop questions, contact Scott Clark with Community Development at 446-1070, or

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  • efromm posted at 12:16 pm on Sun, Sep 9, 2012.

    efromm Posts: 684

    Bottom line don't build in Kookie County. This county is a freaking joke!

  • bob-athol posted at 5:46 am on Wed, Sep 5, 2012.

    bob-athol Posts: 192

    Terry, you are entitled to an opinion even if your statement is factually incorrect and your use of the word ....."most" of the ULUC requirements will not be required .... did not go unoticed. Thats like saying most of the arrows shoot at me will miss, only a few will hit me. The effect is the same if not a slower death. While you also cite the term "may" for larger developments I recall some discusion at one meeting where the "shall" needed to stay "shall" and not become "may".

    For instance, (and its a matter of public record from the recorded session y/dY) the ULUC as presented required SFR property owners to obtain a wetlands review including any within 300' of the proposed construction. Todd Messanger said that is removed now, and if it is not, it will be this friday when he updates the current version. Scott Clark in coversations with me said, he did not know how the reviews for historical significance of the land, archeological significance was going to be handled for home owners.

    I also chided Messanger and the BOCC for if the public is confused, its because of poor comunication on their part. THEY have the responcibility to clearly articulate what is going on, and in terms the public can understand. It is quite reasonable to expect property owners to be upset. The fact is, you and KEA treatment of citizens also fuels that.

    I clearly understand KEA's purpose in the Comp Plan and ULUC, as you previously said, it would be malpractice for you otherwise. However, KEA does NOT represent a balanced activity in creating the Comp Plan nor ULUC. Thats ok, your about the environment, I'm about property owners and the economy and balance.

    You have not been privy to a host of other converstaions and emails I've had with various county people involved in the process. Certainly you have also had much involvement. Since becoming aware and since getting involved, I've clearly determined from reading KEA blogs and opinions maligning property owners like myself who are now aware and now involved, what you (KEA) think of me. Your lack of respect for me and my fellow property owners is clear. There is nothing worse for an environmentalist than participating citizens. And KEA's recent advertising asking the public to call and tell the commissioners to pass the ULUC when only 65% was published and only a fraction of that had yet been reviewed by the ULUC committees, is obvious in its purpose.

    Forgive me, as I continue to be involved in the process.

    As an observer, new participant, and local property owner, I'll be going elsewhere for info then you or KEA.

  • AnonymousCda posted at 8:25 pm on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    AnonymousCda Posts: 334

    Sounds like the good old boys pushing a land grab under everyone's noses. I say there should be a building moratorium county wide. So to keep up with the current amount of growth within the county that will keep the county hands busy. Not to add up more growth spurts like a giant ponzy scheme that only increases taxes, building schools, garbage costs, congestion, pollution... Oh, just look some of the cities in California an that's the way this County is heading as well. What we do need is a large, super large 200 acre Rathdrum prairie Park with large trees, shade trees. Before the Prairie was logged out from all of its trees.

  • Terry at KEA posted at 4:47 pm on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Terry at KEA Posts: 33

    They weren't defending the ULUC as much as correcting misstatements of fact. As you well know, these are still draft proposals, there are still dozens of workshops and public hearings to go.

  • Terry at KEA posted at 4:43 pm on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Terry at KEA Posts: 33

    Yes, it's true, KEA has been involved all along. But to think that we had all that much influence is somewhat amusing. The comp plan was approved by a prior set of commissioners who opposed much of our input. In fact, realtors, builders, contractors, the Chambers of Commerce, the county's municipalities all had WAY more impact than we did. (And they still do!) For months, the commissioners went line-by-line through the comp plan, mostly watering it down from the original planning commission draft.

    But you're right -- the county is required to have a plan, required to write codes, and required to have codes consistent with the comp plan. This hasn't been true in Kootenai County for many years now -- leading to confusion, frustration and litigation. These codes have been a long time coming with a great deal of work invested. Turning the clock back and starting over would be one of the biggest wastes of taxpayer time and effort in county history.

  • Terry at KEA posted at 4:24 pm on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Terry at KEA Posts: 33

    Bob, your statement is factually incorrect. Most of the ULUC requirements you mention will NOT be required for a single property owner looking to build a home on an existing lot. The assessments will NOT be a pre-requisite for a building permit. Such assessments MAY be required for commercial developers or developers of subdivisions.

    Indeed, the "most economically stifling" regulations you've ever seen are SIGNIFICANTLY streamlined from the county's EXISTING codes.

  • Brent Regan posted at 11:06 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Brent Regan Posts: 662

    The last public workshop was scheduled for the same day and time as the monthly Republican Central Committee meeting, an event attended by all the Precinct Committeemen. This public workshop was scheduled for the same day and time as the big Raul Labrador fund raiser, an event many Precinct Committeemen would like to attend. The Precinct Committeemen are the ones trying to bring public awareness to the ULUC process.

    Coincidence? Ignorance? Dan Green is one of the sponsors of the Labrador event.

    Anybody else see a pattern here?

  • Brent Regan posted at 10:54 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Brent Regan Posts: 662

    Why did the Commissioners issue a press release defending their ULUC? Shouldn't they listen to ALL public comment before entrenching themselves at a particular position? They claim to want public input but are acting like all they want is public approval.

    I found this rebuttal to the County Commissioner's press release enlightening:

  • Jennifer_L posted at 9:09 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Jennifer_L Posts: 8

    What I am going to post is going to be long, but I ask that you read the whole thing, especially if you own property in the unincorporated areas of the county.

    I like to mention that the most important part of the code has not been written yet and that is the fines, penalties, and enforcement section. This will probably be done at the end. After listening to the actual recordings of one of the first meetings and hearing this, I have great concerns about this part of the code: Commissioner Dan Green, in a meeting with the consultant on July 18, 2011 said: “"...our punitive ability is embarrassingly if we are going to give people rights to do things, ok, then if you break the law how do we 'rap' your hand...something with teeth to it...if we are going to give them latitude, fine, if you cross the line it will hurt." "I would love to see a civil penalty like a lien on a property that does not get waived with title transfer." "I love it. An ‘appreciating penalty’."

    Below you will see that the Idaho Statute states why the county has to follow through with the Comprehensive plan (which the 2010 plan is very specific) when it comes to the writing of the ULUC. This is why citizens are realizing we must start with a new Comprehensive Plan and then write a new code. It is not enough to tinker around the edges of the ULUC, because the Comprehensive Plan was so specific. Here are the laws:

    67-6508. Planning duties. It shall be the duty of the planning or planning and zoning commission to conduct a comprehensive planning process designed to prepare , implement, and review and update a comprehensive plan, hereafter referred to as the plan.

    67-6511. Zoning ordinance. Each governing board shall, by ordinance adopted, amended, or repealed in accordance with the notice and hearing procedures provided under section 67-6509, Idaho Code, establish within its jurisdiction one (1) or more zones or zoning districts where appropriate. The zoning districts shall be in accordance with the policies set forth in the adopted comprehensive plan.Within a zoning district, the governing board shall where appropriate, establish standards to regulate and restrict the height, number of stories, size, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair or use of buildings and structures; percentage of lot occupancy, size of courts, yards, and open spaces; density of population; and the location and use of buildings and structures. All standards shall be uniform for each class or kind of buildings throughout each district, but the standards in one (1) district may differ from those in another district. and take extensive notes.

    Was this part of Idaho Statute ever done concerning the Comprehensive Plan? (a) Property Rights -- An analysis of provisions which may be necessary to ensure that land use policies, restrictions, conditions and fees do not violate private property rights, adversely impact property values or create unnecessary technical limitations on the use of property and analysis as prescribed under the declarations of purpose in chapter 80, title 67, Idaho Code.

    How many more specific tasks and goals are in this comp plan compared to 1994? 416 tasks and 81 goals in the new comp plan versus 174 tasks and 27 goals in the 1994 comp plan. By law they have to be carried out through the ULUC.

    -Compare the survey approach from 1991 (58,000 surveys were sent out) to the survey approach done for this current comp plan (second point below).

    -Kezziah-Watkins Summary= 1448 people, 924 in the county, 524 outside the state that owned property in Kootenai County. These surveys and the few people selected to do the surveys were the foundation of the writing of the comp plan. Who were these people?

    -How the survey process with Kezziah-Watkins started, Kootenai County provided 20 names, which then these 20 people referred 50 other names. Who was chosen and how? How did the county select these initial 20 people? Kezziah Watkins personally met with these 20 people to gather the other 50 names.

    -The Kootenai County Comp Plan survey was online from August to September 2006. It was available at the Kootenai County Planning desks. It ran 2 times in 3 September newspapers and there were 214 responses. Who responded?

    -They then mailed 4000 out of county property owners, there were 524 responses. Who was chosen?

    -Then there were the "meetings in a box" in which roughly 100 phone calls went out to organizations, persons, and businesses in the county. Who was selected?

    My main concern after talking to many citizens around town and only having a few people actually know what the ULUC is, was how many average people that lived out in the unincorporated areas (Which this plan was written for. It was not for the cities.) were involved in the survey process that was the foundation of the Comprehensive Plan?

    Terry Harris of the KEA (Who lives in California now) has stated on their blog and even in the CDA press comment sections, "Yes, absolutely, KEA and its membership has been very much involved in the development of the comp plan and the current project to re-write the codes."

    Lastly, here is a response to the Commissioner's My Turn piece and press release on Saturday: Also check out the North West Property Owners Alliance website: for even more detailed information.

  • bob-athol posted at 7:49 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    bob-athol Posts: 192

    As I've been reading the proposed codes (currently several website links are broken) and attending various meetings involved with their creation ...... under the proposed ULUC codes, each property owner seeking to build a simple home or even set up a single wide moblie home, will/may be required to hire and pay for independent specialists to make determinations for: historical significance of the land, archeological significance, wetlands biologist assessment, and wildlife activity and habitat examination. All these assessments will have to be done prior to getting a building permit and may severely impact your ability to build on your own land. I find the complexity and requirements very troubling to anyone who hopes to build a home or establish a new business activity in KC. Its the most economic stifling set of regulations I've seen.

  • ancientemplar posted at 7:21 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1260

    Its really all about their control and our lack of freedom...that's how bureaucrats work.
    Please attend and experience theater at its best.

  • Flash Gordon posted at 7:03 am on Tue, Sep 4, 2012.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1428

    Please, give us all a break. The comprehensive plan now and in the future will always be worded in such a way as to allow any interpretation that any present or future county commissioner wants. It's all quite intentional and very political.

    The contradictions in the current comprehensive plan are glaring and well thought out. There's no better way to serve the public interest:)

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