Bonner County Loosens Building Restrictions
Bonner County is helping residents and encouraging new construction by adding an exemption on outbuildings under 600sq feet, up from 200sq feet. This drew criticism from Panhandle Health and enraged some local environmental groups like The Conservation Alliance.
The last few years have seen our commissioners looking at ways to increase construction and bring viability back to the area. Idaho was one of the last states to feel the effects of the 2008 economic downturn. The area has been crippled by the loss of higher wage jobs, high property costs, and rising taxes.
Today was supposed to be an easy sell. Increase productivity by lowing regulations and cost without placing anyone in harms way. Well, that’s how it was supposed to go, but conservation groups and the counties environmental watch dog did not see this as a good thing.
They feel most land owners can’t be trusted to inform the county of problems with leach lines if the build was on or above it and cause damage. This damage could “potentially” cause unsafe conditions for neighbors, or the lake, as most land lots are small.new-home-construction
The Alliance tried to argue “people would rather pay for a permit now then spend $10,000 to move the line or tear down the building, but the commissioners argued (though they did not lawfully have to speak) their job was NOT to tell home owners what to do on their own property, and if they wanted assistance Panhandle Health was still available.
Commissioner Kelly countered, “We have got over-symbolic (on the environment) and we need to get away from that and more towards facts. For the last 30 years I have seen people report problems and fix them as soon as they were able”. His speech was interrupted several times and the representative from Panhandle Health tried to dispute this claim.
In the end the homeowners walked away with a win so they may “maximize” their land usage as they see fit.
This will cause an estimated shortfall for the county of $27,000 and $3,000 to $7,500 for Panhandle Health Services.
By Christian Schwab