Code reform hearing today

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SANDPOINT — A series of controversial amendments to Bonner County’s land use code are being taken up by county commissioners today.

The board is holding a public hearing on the code changes at 2:30 p.m. at the Bonner County Administration Building.

The changes include increasing administrative exceptions from 1 foot to 10 percent on setbacks. An increase from 2 percent to 5 percent on lot sizes and subdivision standards is also being proposed.

The code changes would also create administrative variances of up 30 percent.

This process, once noticing requirements are met, allows the planning director to administratively approve a variance or require the request to be channeled through the typical variance process.

Variances greater than 30 percent would be subject to the normal variance process.

A third proposed code change involves conditional certificates of compliance. It would move the date for which a parcel may legally exist to the adoption date of last major land use code rewrite (Nov. 18, 2008).

The certificate of compliance amendment has drawn significant criticism as a form of amnesty for thousands of divisions of land that were done illegally.

“It will potentially add density around the county with no provision for human waste, water, fire protection or roads,” Steve Lockwood said in a social media posting to his campaign supporters

Lockwood, A Democrat, is challenging incumbent Republican Commissioner Dan McDonald for his seat on the board.

The code changes are part of an ongoing effort by county commissioners to ease the regulatory burden on landowners, although critics of the code changes contend they are watering down standards that protect water quality and design standards.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

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