One thing everyone agrees on: Kootenai County needs to fix its law restricting shoreline ground disturbance.
But how to do so was the big question on Thursday, when the county commissioners held a public hearing over a proposed amendment for the site disturbance ordinance.
After collecting two hours of testimony, the officials voted anonymously to continue deliberations later in the month, in order to process the mixed opinions.
"I think it's necessary to modify certain things," said Commissioner Todd Tondee. "It (the current law) is very frustrating, I think, to all people, both on the environmental side, and for issues of property owners who want to prevent erosion, and part of our ordinance doesn't allow it."
Commissioner Dan Green added that the commissioners should amend the convoluted law as soon as possible, as a temporary fix before all development laws are rewritten to implement the Comprehensive Plan.
"It's one of the most violated ordinances. It makes good people with good intentions violators," Green said. "There are times, in attempts to protect quality, and I've actually seen it (the ordinance) degrade water quality. That frustrates me."
The amendment, proposed by the county Building and Planning Department, aims at streamlining the ordinance language to clarify development standards within shoreline buffer zones.
It would also create two exceptions allowing mechanized equipment within those buffer zones - currently not allowed - for specific projects like erosion control.
A third proposed exception would allow the commissioners to approve building activities within the zones that are deemed beneficial to the public.
Many of the 20 individuals who attended the hearing opposed the amendment.
"The section that concerns me is exception No. 3. I know language, and that language is a barn door wide open," said Coeur d'Alene resident Wes Hanson. "It allows development of any size that directly or indirectly benefits the public, and that's going to be everyone's argument. Then you'll be constantly weighing what is or isn't a public benefit."
He would prefer the commissioners don't touch the law, he said, and leave the corrections to the consultant firm the county just hired to help rewrite development ordinances.
"We should let the professionals do their thing," Hanson said.
Brett Boyer, speaking for the Coeur d'Alene Lakeshore Property Owners Association, requested the same.
Waterfront property owners might have more of a say in the process then, he said.
Terry Harris with Kootenai Environmental Alliance also said the third exception isn't too subjective about what projects would be allowed.
The commissioners will resume deliberations at 10 a.m. on April 28 in the board chambers in the county Administration Building.