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County P&Z closing in on land use ordinance

July 22, 2011
Members of the Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission in attendance at a Thursday evening workshop, stymied by lack of quorum, are confident that they see the culmination of several year's work next week, when hopefully with a quorum, they finalize their recommendation on a zoning map and come to agreement on the text of a new Boundary County Zoning and Subdivision Ordinance that will establsih rules for development in the county for the next several years.

"It hasn't been easy," said zoning administrator Mike Weland, who wrote an initial draft ordinance from which to work following completion of the Boundary County Comprehensive Plan in 2008. "I was beginning to wonder if I'd ever hear what I heard last night, and with unanimous voice. If a quorum would have been present, I'm sure they'd have all agreed. It's taken a long time, there's another review by legal counsel coming, but I think these people have done a great job. I think they've developed a set of land use laws that meets the goals established in our comp plan and will serve this county well, without being onerous."

The Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission will hold another workshop at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, to make recommendations on a new zoning map. If they have a quorum, they have one of two options; to forward a recommendation of approval to County Commissioners or to schedule a second public hearing before the P&Z commission.

"The Planning and zoning commission is not obligated by law to hold another public hearing," Weland said, "They already held one, incorporated what they heard with due diligence during workshops over the last several months, and produced the revised draft. They can submit that draft to County Commissioners with a recomendation of approval, or they can choose to hold another hearing on their revised draft."

Should progress continue and P&Z elect to hold their own public hearing, the earliest such public hearing could be held, given public notification requirements estabnlished by Idaho Code, would be August 25, which would have to be established as a special meeting.

Based on the outcome, they could then choose to forward a recommendation to county commissioners or determine that the draft needs yet more refinement. In the best case scenario, county commissioners could then schedule public hearing, not sooner than September 19. If, as hoped, the proposed draft is approved, it could go into effect after publication in the county newspaper of record as early as September 29.

If, however, the planning and zoning commission determines at the July 28 workshop, with quorum present, to forego their own second public hearing and instead forward a recommendation to commissioners, public hearing could take place before county commissioners as early as August 22.

Based on the outcome, county commissioners could, in the best case, approve the draft, set publication and adopt the ordinance as early as September 1.

"Personally, I prefer the latter option," Weland said. "The sooner we get this new ordinance in place, the sooner people will start investing in businesses here. I've seen people with great ideas who are withholding  applications for development because what's being proposed is better and more flexible than what we have right now. Some of them have great ideas, but they're not willing to invest until they know what the rules are. They don't mind going through the processes we establish. For the most part, they want more to know what they need to do to assure that they meet our rules and, in so doing, gain the approval of their neighbors."
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