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Landowners Beware Growing Land Use Control in North Idaho

Does anyone see any opportunities for cronyism here?


Landowners Beware Growing Land Use Control in North Idaho

by John Poland

Ten years ago it was relatively easy to buy a piece of land in north Idaho and build a house. Regulations were light and bureaucracy was minimal. Those who have tried to build anything recently know that all this has changed. Our area is rapidly becoming an over-regulated copy of California.

This trend started in Kootenai County when the area began to grow rapidly. County officials turned over planning and zoning responsibilities to a private consulting company – Ruen-Yeager & Associates.

Development procedures that used to be simple turned into nightmares of regulation and bureaucracy. I have talked with numerous contractors, realtors and surveyors who describe how it is nearly impossible to get anything done in Kootenai county now.

Ruen-Yeager next expanded their reach into Bonner county. I have heard more tales of the difficulties in getting anything done there now, compared to just a few years ago. Landowners who simply wish to divide a parcel find it takes much longer, and projects are needlessly delayed while the forms, approvals, reviews and hearings are worked through. For those desperately trying to move to this area the problems must be like a bad flashback to the California they are trying to escape.

Now, this expanding “partnership” between government and a private business has worked its way into Boundary county. I am now hearing the same stories of delays, fees, paperwork and bureaucracy involved with everything that happens here.

So, why would a County do this?

Until a few years ago, in Boundary County a single Planning and Zoning Administrator took care of these applications and worked through any development issues. This made the county directly responsible for decisions and there was little financial incentive in delaying projects.

Consider the situation now. The county hires Ruen-Yeager to handle all county planning and zoning activity. Instead of having one full time county employee handle it, they now have a private firm with several employees tasked with this job, with all of the mark-up and overhead associated with such a deal. Every bit of red tape, bureaucracy and obstruction they can throw in front of a property owner works to their benefit. Every hour they spend “helping” the County or “working with” the landowner is time they can bill back to the county, and ultimately, we the taxpayers.

The county gets to offload the work to a private firm who makes a lot of money from slowing down projects all over the county. The Commissioners have their own private attorney to look after “civil law” who then makes sure nothing done can legally touch the county officials. Any deals that would be to their benefit can be approved, while any they personally dislike can be blocked. Does anyone see any opportunities for cronyism here? Any chance for a little corruption on the side to favor one entity over another? It did not need to be this way, but this is the path your commissioners have chosen.

I myself have personally experienced this new bureaucracy. A simple parcel division that should have taken a few weeks to complete has been dragged out for over six months and still is not finished. I have had numerous discussions with County officials and Ruen-Yeager arguing over their arbitrary decisions but of course to no avail as they hold all the power. At a recent county meeting the officials actually told me “we don’t take responsibility for previous decisions.” This, from officials who were in office when the previous decisions were made that led up to my situation. These problems led to my own research and discussions with many others in the county who are having the same kinds of unnecessary delays and expenses. It is widespread and affects everyone trying to build or develop.

Is this really what we want in Idaho? This is supposed to be the most conservative area of the most conservative state in the country, and yet we are letting our property rights disappear into the bureaucracy of the “public – private partnerships” that characterizes the rapid spread of regulation and restriction all over the country. It does not need to be this way. It was not this way a few years ago.

If you like the trend we are on, by all means keep voting for the incumbents, especially the group now running Boundary County. My neighbors and I have personal experience with their cronyism over the last four years and the decisions that they have made that have destroyed our neighborhood. We won’t be voting for the incumbents this election. There are conservative, constitutionally minded challengers on the ballot this year and we will be supporting all of them.

Remember, elections in Idaho are decided during the primaries. Democrats don’t win in Idaho, but RINOs and corrupt local officials do. If you want to clean up Idaho, you must vote in the primaries – for the sake of the future of Idaho and your own local area.


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6 Comments on Landowners Beware Growing Land Use Control in North Idaho

  1. Have you ever actually read the Idaho Code sections? Everyone wants it to be “easy for them” but bitch to high heaven when their neighbor wants to make a change. Move back to wherever you came from.

    • May I suggest, “born and raised”, that you re-read the article. Your statement suggests that you are against land use rights and love big, expensive government. I am trying to support land use rights and consistent rule of law. I did come from “somewhere else” originally – that is exactly why I am against having a private firm spend our tax dollars to do a job that was done better by a regular, county employee for one-third the cost just a few years ago.

      This kind of reply is typical of those who have never dealt with the expanding bureaucracy in our area. I have dealt with code issues for years now fighting against local corruption as well as encroachment on land use rights. The cronyism typical of Boundary County has gotten even worse than it was.

      Quite simply, “born and raised”, you typify the ignorance of too many people in this area who have not had to experience the reality of what is happening. Everyone I have talked with about this issue agrees that having Ruen-Yeager handle land use planning has resulted in poor public service, endless delays, and much higher costs. You simply don’t know what you are talking about. Perhaps you are the one who should leave.

  2. The land grab originates with the Highway Districts. They all have the same attorney thus the same attitude that if you don’t agree with them then sue them. The Highway Districts use a “taking” as a condition of approval for minor subdivisions. That means the locals that choose to divide their property have to agree to violate the US Constitution and Idaho State Constitution for an approval. The Highway Districts continuously violate the property rights of homeowners by stating there is no Idaho law that prohibits them from doing it. Even though there is a Federal California case Dolan v City of Tigard, 512 US 374 (1994) that prohibits a condition of approval and giving up land to a taxing district. The local entities ignore the US Constitution AND Idaho Constitution because there is NO lawsuit in the state of Idaho that prevents them from doing this. Watch the taxing districts!

  3. I moved to the open spaces. I see nothing but folks, contractors, moving into our ‘boom town’, buying land then applying for, and getting, waivers to get around all planning. Those approving these waivers are NEVER affected by their decisions. There’s a fight tonight at the county building over this. I left CA because of bad planning and congestion (and other reasons). Now I see the very same things happening here. I moved to Idaho for the open areas and ruralness, not to bring the failures of CA here.

  4. Doesn’t take a Genius to figure it.
    Northern Idaho was a Bastion of Freedom and Safety.
    Can’t have that now can they.

    It’s easily fixed.

    • Would you care to cite your sources and explain your rather cryptic reply? Especially the easy fix.

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