P&Z ordinances not good for Boundary County

A new Planning and Zoning ordinance was recently passed by Boundary County commissioners. A part of this new ordinance will make it possible for urban sprawl to happen anywhere in the county except for federal and state land. This would make it possible for a subdivision to be next to your rural home. This random development is not the best for the future of our county.

A few years ago, more than 400 Boundary County residents signed a petition to have a moratorium on random subdivisions in this county. The final ordinances approved by the commissioners did not honor their desires.

Many Boundary County residents participated in the workshops to update and redo the comprehensive plan but the commissioners ignored the values of everyone who participated in these workshops when they rewrote the final draft. They disregarded the wishes, time, and hard work everyone in the workshops put into the comprehensive plan.

The final Planning and Zoning ordinance adopted by the commissioners reconstructed a voluntary planning tool called Transfer of Development Rights that was introduced to them a few years ago. It’s a great tool if it is used as it was designed. TDRs can help landowners with land that is agricultural, important wildlife habitat, riparian areas, or other sensitive lands from development.

If it is done correctly it works like this: A landowner, whose property meets the criteria mentioned above, is able to sell the development rights to a developer and receive anywhere from 30 percent to 70 percent of the market value of the land. The seller can still live, work, and sell his or her land, the same as before the transfer. The only thing the seller cannot do is build on the acres where the development rights were sold. The developer benefits because he or she is allowed to use those purchased rights to create a higher density area where it is most appropriate. In some cases a clustered development can take place. This area should already have infrastructure in place and already has higher density existing.

Now let me tell you how your commissioners misused this voluntary planning tool that would have helped many people financially and at the same time helped wildlife without violating private property rights. They are allowing the receiving area, (where the higher density will be), and the sending area (where the development rights are purchased), to be anywhere in the county except federal and state land. This is bad because it defeats the whole purpose of a TDR ordinance. It means that you could have a clustered development subdivision next to you. The McArthur Lake Wildlife Corridor and other important wildlife corridors could be fragmented even more. Valuable agricultural land could be lost forever.

The value of the development rights that are being sold will have much less value because too many receiving and sending areas are being allowed. When there are too many on the market the value goes down. The only one who benefits is the developer (buyer).

The TDR ordinance (11.10) the commissioners approved does not follow state statute 67-6515A. The Idaho Legislature intent was to have a voluntary planning tool that helps preserve agricultural land, wildlife habitat and other sensitive lands. The commissioners have allowed the exact opposite to happen.

Now our only option is to challenge this illegal ordinance (11.10) in the courts.

Some Boundary County citizens want to have this ordinance either done correctly or just removed all together. We would like to see it done correctly. A non-profit organization called Better Planning for Boundary County has been formed to raise money for attorney fees and court costs to challenge this. We are asking for your donations. Please drop off a donation at the Panhandle Bank and make your check out to Better Planning for Boundary County. We need your help to protect important agricultural land, wildlife habitat, and allow people to benefit financially from selling their development rights.

TIM PATTON

Bonners Ferry

Better Planning for Boundary County

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