COEUR d'ALENE - In an action that was not properly noticed to the public last week, Kootenai County commissioners voted to rescind a $100,000 contract extension to fix its new controversial land use proposal.
Commissioners went on during that meeting to approve a motion to draft and sign an alternative extension of the contract for $5,400 to draft a prospectus that would detail how their land use consultant, Kendig Keast Cooperative, would propose to fix the flawed Unified Land Use Code.
In the draft minutes of that meeting, Commissioner Todd Tondee entertained a motion to reconsider the $100,000 contract extension that the commissioners approved on Aug. 13.
According to the minutes, he explained to the commission that there was no time to notify the public by properly placing the item on the meeting agenda.
Commissioners then voted to add that item to the agenda along with an unrelated item concerning a grant agreement.
Tondee said the issue needed to be addressed because the commission's intent was never to approve the entire $100,000 contract, but rather to approve the $5,400 prospectus which was the first phase of the contract, according to the minutes.
"Chairman Tondee noted that the contract reviewed (Aug. 13) contained items that should have been covered under the original contract and not under the addendum," the minutes stated.
The minutes show that Commissioners Dan Green and Jai Nelson both said they thought they were approving only the prospectus as well.
In fact, Nelson noted that she specifically asked at the original meeting if the contract could be terminated if commissioners decided that they did not agree with the consultant's prospectus.
Civil Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Pat Braden told the commissioners that he reviewed the audio of the meeting and the commissioners had, in fact, approved the entire contract as presented.
"Mr. Braden mentioned that termination was discussed, but in light of additional communications and discussions a clarification of the Board's intent is necessary," the minutes stated.
The commission voted unanimously to rescind its contract approval, and then proceeded to discuss how they would craft an agreement for the prospectus.
Nelson repeatedly objected to signing the agreement for just the prospectus. She preferred that a new agreement was drafted, according to the minutes.
"Commissioner Nelson noted that this would dramatically modify (the original) document that Mr. Keast has signed," the minutes said.
She was also concerned about language in the original contract that said the commissioners must either approve or deny the prospectus, there would be no changes or modifications allowed.
Tondee said the county could draft a memo to Keast explaining that the county does not approve of the overall contract, but would like to move forward with the prospectus.
Green agreed with Tondee and said that he would be fine with giving the chairman the authority to sign the agreement once the other commissioners read the document.
Both Green and Tondee voted to send the agreement by Aug. 21, and Nelson voted against doing so.
I was really quite tentative about it," she said on Thursday. "Todd and Dan wanted to accelerate that process, but I didn't have anything in front of me, so voted no."
On Aug. 26, Nelson drafted a letter to John McFaddin, who recently submitted a My Turn column to the Press, complaining about the ULUC and the county's unwillingness to listen to local input on the new proposal.
"Well, it was good to hear that she is not supportive of the ULUC," McFaddin said Thursday after receiving the letter. "But she needs to communicate that to a broader segment of the community."
In that letter, Nelson explained to McFaddin that she is listening to public input and described how she is the only one who voted against a contract extension with Kendig Keast.
"I have sent a lot of those letters," she said. "People are quoting me in letters to the editor without even talking to me first, so I just wanted to let him know that I am listening to public input."
She said that she did not vote to hire Kendig Keast at the beginning of the process, and she does not support the draft zoning map that consultant developed as part of the ULUC.
She also has concerns with the ULUC's proposed 40-acre working lands large parcels, or any other dramatic "down zoning" in the proposal.
"I have concerns with the elimination of the "free-split" option in the current draft and support it being included as an option," she wrote. "If the ULUC was to come before me in a hearing with its current content, my vote would be no."
She went on the explain how the contract extension was nullified and how she even voted against the prospectus as well.
"What I do support is the public process and encourage you to stay informed and continue to provide comment on this project," she wrote, adding that still supports upgrading the current land use code with something the citizens support.
"This prospectus really is the crossroads," she said Thursday. "At least it is for me."