Mysterious code change has rural advocates worried


SANDPOINT – The language was mysteriously added to the revised Bonner County code and no one seems to know who did it.

“The wording that was added was never approved by the commissioners, even before the court rejected the actual wording that was approved,” said Susan Drumheller of Project 7B, a rural advocacy group .

“After finally convincing Bill Wilson of the error, he asked Sterling Codifiers to remove the language,” she added.

The code change has since been overturned by the Idaho Supreme Court. However, the vacancy of the paragraph in question had to do with a breach of the Open Meetings Act, not the verbiage that later emerged.

The code in question was BCRC 12-336, paragraph 22. It was amended in May 2018 but in July 2020 the change was reversed by the Idaho First District Court after the county admitted that this amendment to the code was not in accordance with the public notice. given by the department.

The notice stated that they would discuss whether or not to “[a]modify the permitted uses to expand the permitted uses in a gravel pit located in an industrial zone. »

After the meeting was noticed, Drumheller had a chat with Bonner County Commission Chairman Dan McDonald via Facebook Messenger. During the conversation, McDonald tried to allay Drumheller’s concerns, saying the hearing would only deal with “industrial areas [that] were overlooked in the 2008 compensation plan.”

“We know an asphalt plant [in] Sagle is undesirable and has no desire to go against the wishes of those who live in this region.

“I’m a conservative and I’m running again this year to protect our culture and our rural nature. If you’ve ever listened to my radio show, you’d know my credentials are solid,” Mcdonald added.

However, the county later admitted in court that “the amendment eventually passed by the County Board of Commissioners conditionally permitted concrete/asphalt plants (contained in a gravel pit) not only in industrial areas, but [in] several others too” and even asked the court to strike down the amendment.

The language was added by Ordinance 577 and read “[a] the concrete plant is only conditionally permitted in association with an active gravel pit. »

On July 16, 2020, the county filed a “stipulated motion for entry of judgment” and in it admitted that this “part of the amendment was improper and passed in unlawful procedure.”

The change has been reverted and should be removed from the code.

But things went wrong somewhere between the county administration building and the servers of Sterling Codifiers, which maintains the code library of American Legal Publishers.

For some reason, for nearly two years after the July 2020 ruling, the repealed paragraph, instead of being deleted, was significantly changed.

In the mysterious amendment, the requirement for a conditional use permit was removed and “increased intensity” would have been allowed for grandfathered non-conforming land uses.

Statement 22, following the court’s decision, has been amended to state that “[a] the concrete batching plant should only be located in an active gravel pit. A concrete plant placed in a gravel pit should be considered a separate and distinct use, not the increased intensity of grandfathered use to operate the gravel pit itself. »

Drumheller said the change contradicted County Code Title 12 Subchapter 3.4, specifically 12-340 D and 12-343. 12-340 states that “the intention of this title [is] that non-conformities should not be enlarged, enlarged or extended, nor be used as a reason to add other prohibited constructions or uses elsewhere in the same neighborhood or area.

And 12-343 which states that “[n]o this non-conforming use must not be enlarged or increased, nor extended to occupy a greater area of ​​land than that which was occupied on the effective date of the adoption or modification of this article. »

Linscott Asphalt Plant Project Critic in Sagle, Jonna Plante, noticed the error when the code was referenced during a planning meeting in June 2021. The error was corrected over a year ago. late. The reason for the delay, as well as the author of the now corrected illegal code change, remains a mystery. Bonner County commissioners and the planning department were unavailable for comment.

The original amendment to the revised Bonner County code that sought to change several aspects of the code, AM161-18, is not available on the county’s website, despite the web address “https://www.bonnercountyid. gov/file-am161-18” appearing in the original amendment notice in January 2018.


Comments are closed.