Simple, but not simplistic

County looks to update comprehensive plan

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David Callahan, community development director for Kooteani County, discuss the comprehensive plan with commissioner Dan Green Monday during a community development update meeting in Coeur d’Alene.

COEUR d'ALENE - The Kootenai County commissioners on Monday ordered the community development department to begin updating the 2010 Comprehensive Plan.

The current plan, which took more than three years to put together, will now be condensed and made more contemporary.

"One of the largest complaints I've heard is the comprehensive plan doesn't place an emphasis on private property rights," said Commissioner Marc Eberlein.

The goals and policies in the plan will be updated by Community Development Director David Callahan's department, then brought forward to the commissioners. The commissioners expect the updates to be completed within a year and a half.

Callahan also was ordered to continue working on technical fixes to the existing land-use and development ordinances.

Callahan reported to the board that he is done with the fixes, which took several months to complete, and they are ready to be made public.

Under the previous board - with Jai Nelson, Todd Tondee and Dan Green - county staff members were instructed to fix and condense the ordinances, which could be inconsistent and sometimes conflicting. The fixes were sought to make the land-use code easier to understand and use.

Larry Jeffres, executive officer of the North Idaho Building Contractors Association, asked that the county first focus on the technical fixes to the existing land-use ordinances before working on the comp plan. He said the association has contributed to the fixes.

"We really want to see this done," Jeffres said.

A high-profile effort to totally change the ordinances was abandoned.

"I'm glad the (Unified Land Use Code) is behind us," Jeffres said.

Bev Twillmann, a representative of Neighbors for Responsible Growth, asked that the county focus on balance as it completes the work. Her group seeks to preserve rural areas in the county.

"I just think we don't want to go too far in one direction or the other," Twillmann said.

She doesn't want the board - with two new members - to forget the input from those, like her group, who have been working on these updates from the beginning.

"A lot of people speaking the loudest now haven't been" involved from the beginning of the process, she said. "Their opinions are important, but so are the people who were involved at the get-go."

"(Builders) tell me we need certainty in this county," said Art Macomber, a Coeur d'Alene-based property and land-use attorney. "We need to have some clear, simple, simple rules, so people can make investments and move forward."

He also asked that the technical fixes to the land-use codes be the first order of business.

On the comp plan, he said, "The simpler the better."

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