Controversial plan back on agenda

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This screenshot from the "Greater Sandpoint Area Greenprint" shows the overall area of study by the coordinators of the report, which focuses on conservation of land. A proposed resolution for Greenprint support by Sandpoint City Council is on tonight's agenda.

SANDPOINT — The Greater Sandpoint Greenprint is back on the City Council agenda after it failed to garner support by council members last month.

When the Greenprint report showed up on the City Council agenda on Jan. 4, it sparked a string of public comment from community members who were concerned about its intent.

Much of the concern stemmed from the fact that many of the individuals had not heard of the Greenprint until it showed up on the agenda.

During that meeting, council members decided to postpone voting on whether or not to support the Greenprint until more community members had a chance to read through the 30-page report, and will be discussed again at tonight's meeting. 

The Greenprint was initiated in 2014 by local cities and environmental groups, and was finalized in 2016. It focuses on 94,500 Bonner County acres including Sandpoint, Ponderay, Kootenai, Dover, Hope, East Hope, as well as much of the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and Selkirk Recreation areas.

City officials provided the Daily Bee with documents Tuesday outlining some of the basic information, including a list of question and answers about Greenprints, their purpose, and why city council should support the Greater Sandpoint Greenprint.

• The first question — what is a Greenprint?

A Greenprint is a set of tools, including maps and a report, that identify the most effective places to protect important resources like water, working lands, and recreation opportunities.

• What does the Greater Sandpoint Greenprint say?

Based on a public survey and other outreach efforts, the Greenprint identifies four goals the community believes are important for protecting the character of the Greater Sandpoint area: maintain water quality, provide recreation, protect wildlife habitat and preserve working lands.

The Greenprint includes maps developed with local experts that use public input and the best available data to highlight the most effective places to accomplish these goals. The Greenprint is not a regulatory document and does not change zoning or other ordinances. It values private property rights and makes recommendations that can be implemented only through voluntary landowner agreements.

• Why is a Greenprint important?

Greenprints are important because they can help local groups identify places that would most effectively protect resources important to a community. As the beauty and natural amenities of Bonner County attract more and more people, a Greenprint can help balance thoughtful development with maintaining and protecting the resources that make it a special place.

• How was this Greenprint created?

The Greenprint is the result of combining local community input and local expertise with the best available data and state-of-the-art mapping and modeling. Despite a large public survey of more than 560 participants and tabling at local events, there was concern that rural residents were underrepresented in outreach results. In response, the survey was weighted so that protecting working lands, and important concern among rural residents, was identified as a core value of the community. A local steering committee with 46 participants helped guide the Greenprint process. Partners in the Greenprint included the cities of Ponderay and Sandpoint, Kaniksu Land Trust, Idaho Conservation League and the Trust for Public Land.

• Why should the city of Sandpoint support the Greenprint with a resolution?

A city's stamp of approval makes it easier to win funding for projects that would protect the resources most important to the community. In other words, if a city, county or another local group would like to prevent stream bank erosion or expand a popular trail, they are far more likely to win grant money for key projects if a city supports a document like the Greenprint that identifies the most effective places to do this work. The Greenprint does not give Sandpoint any authority to effect land use decisions outside of the city boundaries.

• How will the Greenprint be used?

The Greenprint is simply a tool to help identify the most effective places to protect important resources. The Greenprint does not obligate or require any particular action.

These question and answers, as well as the full Greenprint report, can be found on the city's website at sandpointidaho.gov/Home/Components/News/News/1174/1417  

Also on tonight's City Council agenda is a memorandum of understanding between the city of Sandpoint and the Independent Highway District as they work toward a final resolution in regards to the Idaho Supreme Court's decision in Sandpoint v. Independent Highway District. For 10 years, a joint powers agreement allowed the city to assume control of all streets in city limits and required IHD to pay all highway ad valorem taxes collected on property in the city. The court found the JPA to be void and unenforceable. The MOU will allocate funds and allow street work to be completed by the city in the interim.

Council members will also consider resolutions of acquiring property for the Schweitzer Cutoff Road reconstruction project and a Parks and Recreation software agreement. 

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