SCA advocates for responsible growth that preserves the natural environment in Bonner County and PUBLIC INCLUSION!



Bonner County Planning Department

1500 HWY 2

Suite 208

Sandpoint, ID

83864

planning@bonnercountyid.gov

July 28, 2021

RE: File AM0016-20 Proposed Subdivision Amendments

SCA comments on Bonner County Planning Commission and Planning Department staff recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners (BOCC) for the County Subdivision Ordinance, Chapter 6; Subdivisions. https://www.bonnercountyid.gov/FileAM0016-20

Please enter into the record the following comments as submitted by Selkirk Conservation Alliance (SCA). SCA is one of north Idaho’s oldest conservation organizations and has been working to protect and conserve the lower Selkirk Mountain ecosystem with a particular focus on the Priest Lake Watershed for the past 35 years. Bonner county lies within our advocacy area and the decisions made by Bonner County Commissioners and the Planning Department have a direct effect on the short and long term preservation and conservation of our region’s air, land, wildlife, forests and water.

We urge you to take into consideration the following recommendations to protect and preserve the “rural” nature of, and the long-term environmental health of Bonner County. SCA’s comments and recommendations are in accordance with the Bonner County Comprehensive Plan (Implementation Component) goals and objectives as they were laid out and determined by the public and adopted by the County in 2002.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.1 General Provisions

12-611: Definitions

  • SCA recommends the BOCC keep the Minor Land Division (MLD) minimum division of land to four (4) or fewer lots. The recommendation by Planning Department staff of a minimum of ten (10) divisions of land as a minor land division is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan goals to maintain low density development and preserve the “rural” nature of Bonner County.
  • SCA recommends leaving the Short Plat definition and process in place. To be defined as; Short Plat: Any division of land into five (5) to ten (10) lots or parcels.
  • SCA recommends that the definition of Subdivision as it appears in this ordinance be titled Major Subdivision. To be defined as; Major Subdivision: Any division of land into eleven (11) or more lots or parcels.
  • SCA further recommends that applications for Short Plats and Major Subdivisions require a public notice and be open for public commenting for a period of forty (40) days. Copies of the application should be sent to all neighboring properties including neighboring properties within 1500 feet and noticed in local papers and on the County’s website (for all zoning designations).
  • The principle of public participation holds that those who are directly affected by a decision have a right to be involved in the decision-making process and express their views on the environmental and social impacts of the proposal/permit/project/application etc.. The main aim of public participation is to encourage the public to provide meaningful input that will inform the decision(s) made by agencies on behalf of the public.  Agencies tasked with upholding the Public Trust Doctrine should aspire to directly engage the public in decision-making and give full consideration to the publics input in making that decision.
  • SCA recommends that applications for Short Plats and Major Subdivisions require increased oversight by the County including periodic site visits to ensure the applicant is abiding by County Land Use and Development Code regulations including County subdivision requirements.
  • SCA recommends that the term “subdivision” include (I) Minor Land Divisions. By including MLD’s under the exceptions (A-I) for the label of “subdivision” the County is precluding future MLD’s form inclusion and adherence to 12-628. ENDORSEMENTS TO BE SHOWN ON FINAL PLAT; H. Exception: For land divisions not defined as a subdivision per BCRC 12-611 this endorsement shall not be required.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.1 General Provisions

12-615: Certificate of Compliance, Conditional Certificate of Compliance

As stated currently; A. Any person owning a lot or parcel may apply for a certificate of compliance, on an application form provided by the Planning Department, requesting the Planning Director to determine whether the lot or parcel resulting from a division of land complies with the applicable provisions of this Code…….

  • SCA recommends striking the words “may apply” and replacing them with are required to apply for a certificate of compliance/
  • SCA recommends replacing the stricken Chapter 6: Subdivisions, Subchapter 6.1 General Provisions, 12-615: F. Any determination made by the Planning Director in the administration of this section shall be appealable to the Board of County Commissioners by notifying the Planning Director in writing of the intent to appeal within ten (10) calendar days from the date of the determination. Upon receipt of an appeal, the Planning Director shall schedule a meeting with the Board within ten (10) working days to hear the appeal and shall provide written notice to the appellant of the time and place of the meeting. The Planning Director and appellant shall be provided an opportunity to present the relevant issues to the Board at that meeting. The Board’s decision shall be final, and further recourse of the appellant shall be as provided by Idaho Code. If no appeal is filed, the Planning Director’s decision will be deemed effective and the certificate of compliance or conditional certificate of compliance shall be recorded. (Ord. 551, 3-9-2016).
  • Public participation in land use and planning is critically important for effective land use management. It is the responsibility of the County to provide a public forum and process so that the local citizenry can effectively manage the future growth and development of their/our communities and region.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.2 Design Standards & Final Plat Contents

12-623: Services and Utilities

  • SCA recommends that prior to any and all subdivisions of land in Bonner County the water supply and septic capability is determined. If a proposed subdivision of land does not have the water or septic capability to support division and future development, the application should be denied.
  • In addition to water and septic an assessment  and determination of  public and private services, including, but not limited to, water, sewer services, solid waste, fire protection, emergency services, and school facilities and transportation, which will serve the proposed subdivision are adequate for the needs of future residents or users.

As stated currently; C. All proposed lots shall be designed by the applicant to provide a fire protection plan for the proposed lots to provide, at a minimum, an assessment of fire risk and plans to reduce the risk, and provisions for defensible space, where material capable of allowing a fire to spread unchecked will be treated, cleared or modified to slow the rate and intensity of an advancing wildfire and to create an area for fire suppression operations to occur, and for at least one of the following to the satisfaction of Bonner County or the fire district in which the plat is located:

  • SCA is in favor of increased protections and mitigation plans for the Bonner County Wildland Urban Interface (WUI). This includes the provisions contained in the above (C) as well as regulations that enforce and discourage increased subdivisions of land within the WUI. Lot density within the WUI has a direct impact on fire spread and the safety and general welfare of the citizens of Bonner County.
  • SCA recommends that “and for at least one of the following to the satisfaction of Bonner County or the fire district in which the plat is located” be stricken and that only the Bonner County fire district in which the plat is located be allowed to finalize a site/lot fire protection plan.
  • SCA is in agreement with C; 3. The installation of an approved IFC residential fire suppression sprinkler system is required in all newly constructed residences”

As stated currently; C. 1. Prior to final plat, for parcels smaller than five (5) acres, an approved water and fire hydrant system capable of providing one thousand (1,000) gallons per minute for a minimum of two (2) hours where a community water system exists or is proposed as part of the development and is capable of delivering the pressurized water supply necessary for delivering fire flows as prescribed by the international fire code……

  • SCA recommends striking “for parcels smaller than five (5) acres” and adding, for parcels smaller than ten (10) acres…

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.2 Design Standards & Final Plat Contents

12-623: Environmental Features

C. All plats subdivisions containing waterfront property shall conform to the following standards:

1. New lots or parcels on sites in the forestry, agricultural/forestry, rural and other zoning districts where all urban services are not available, shall maintain an average width (as measured parallel to the shoreline) of at least two hundred feet (200′) for all portions of the lot or parcel within one hundred feet (100′) of the shoreline. The total depth of the lot (as measured from the shoreline to the opposite end of the lot or parcel) must be deep enough to allow development to meet applicable vegetation conservation and building setback requirements per subchapter 7.1 in this title.

2. New lots or parcels not in the forestry, agricultural/forestry or rural zoning districts and containing all urban services, shall maintain an average width (as measured parallel to the shoreline) of at least one hundred feet (100′) for all portions of the lot within one hundred feet (100′) of the shoreline. The total depth of the lot (as measured from the shoreline to the opposite end of the lot or parcel) must be deep enough to allow development to meet applicable vegetation conservation and building setback requirements per subchapter 7.1 in this title. (Ord. 501, 11-18-2008)

  • SCA is in agreement with the shoreline setback provisions set forth in C. 1 & 2 and recommends the county provide increased oversight (including periodic site visits) to ensure shoreline setbacks are delineated correctly and being adhered to by developers and property owners.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.2 Design Standards & Final Plat Contents

12-628: Final Plat, Contents:

N. Shoreline vegetation buffer management areas shall be delineated on the final plat. Applicants for shore land subdivisions may be required to plant vegetation as provided in appendix B of this title in shoreline vegetation buffer management areas prior to final plat approval. Exceptions may be made for areas that contain no cultivatable soil, such as pebble beach areas or rock outcroppings

  • SCA is in full agreement with this provision and is encouraged to see the County establishing modern, science based provisions that protect our regions surface and groundwater. Riparian buffers are a critical and effective best management practice for protecting waterbodies from pollutants in surface runoff. Riparian buffers prevent trash, sediment, toxins and other pollutants from entering our waterways.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.2 Design Standards & Final Plat Contents

12-632: Procedure for Administrative review and Approval of Adjustments of Lot Lines, Minor and Notational Changes:

  • SCA recommends keeping the stricken provision F

F. Any decision or determination made by the planning director in the administration of the provisions of this section may be appealed to the board as set forth at section 12-261 of this title.

  • As stated previously, public participation in land use and planning is critically important for effective land use management. It is the responsibility of the County to provide a public forum and process so that the local citizenry can effectively manage the future growth and development of their/our communities and region.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.4 Minor Land Division

  • SCA recommends keeping the stricken provision C

C. Permit Required: Lots created by a minor land division, shall only be eligible for one minor land division for a period of not less than two (2) years. Land divisions done prior to the end of the two (2) year period shall be processed as a subdivision or short plat.

  • SCA recommends that all stricken provisions (B-G) be kept in the subdivision ordinance. These provisions primarily deal with the safety, health and general welfare of the people of Bonner County and lay out protections for shoreline zones and the identification of natural hazard areas in addition to other protections and precautions.

Chapter 6: Subdivisions

Subchapter 6.5 Preliminary Plat

12-653; Subdivisions, Procedure for Processing Preliminary Plat

  • SCA agrees with striking Planning Director and replacing it with Commission throughout this Subchapter. Further SCA agrees with the addition of provision number 5. Any decision made by the commission may be appealed per Title 12-262

In closing,

The current “streamlining” of the County’s subdivision process and changes to the Subdivision Ordinance, in particular the almost tripling of allowed parcel subdivisions in the MLD from four (4) to ten (10) is not consistent with the values and character of Bonner County and does not adhere to the county values put forth in the Bonner County Comprehensive Plan which succinctly states the clear public sentiment that the county’s beauty and culture not be compromised and that growth occurs in a responsible way that preserves the natural environment. The Comprehensive Plan considers and accounts for environmentally sensitive areas such as lakes, rivers, wetlands and wildlife corridors and seeks to reduce development pressures in these areas.

 As stated in the Bonner County Comprehensive Plan; Implementation Component, “Planning is a way to consider our options before they no longer exist. The future of Bonner County will be told by the decisions we as residents make today.”

Selkirk Conservation Alliance (SCA) would like to thank the Bonner County Planning Commission and Planning Department staff for working collaboratively with the community members of Bonner County and giving thoughtful, considerate attention to the comments of the public. Land use decisions made by county officials regarding our beloved Bonner County have a direct effect on the health, safety and general welfare of the people of Bonner County in addition to our lakes, rivers, wetlands, air, wildlife, agriculture lands, forests and water.

Respectfully submitted,

Amy Anderson

Selkirk Conservation Alliance

Executive Director

Amy Anderson

anderson@scawild.org

(208) 448-1110

Please plan to attend the upcoming Bonner County Commissioners meeting

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 4, 2021

Bonner County Commissioners’ Public Hearing Agenda – August 4, 2021
Location: Bonner County Administration Building, 1500 Hwy 2, Sandpoint, ID – 3rd Floor, Suite 338 and
Online Zoom Teleconference and YouTube Livestream
1:30 p.m

Link for more information on the meeting: https://www.bonnercountyid.gov/media/Planning/Public%20Hearings%20and%20Workshops/BOCC%20Agendas/2021/BC%2008.04.21.pdf

Link for more information on the subdivision ordinance:

https://www.bonnercountyid.gov/FileAM0016-20

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