CommissionMEN Still Spending Money on the RV Campground
by Shari Dovale
For 6 months now, the public has been forced to endure an ongoing litany of CommissionMEN demands to push through the RV Campground project.
The public was adamant that they did not want this project as presented. They were not opposed to a campground, but they were opposed to taking land previously designated for the Justice complex.
The CommissionMEN were repeatedly asked, nearly every week “Why” is this project so important? Yet, there was never a complete answer given.
The public was vindicated when the project was halted by organizations the CommissionMEN could not control.
When the state grant was denied, everyone thought that was the end of it, but alas, it was not.
The CommissionMEN decided that there was still a future for this project so they sent the request over to the Sandpoint City Council to rezone the land in question.
On Friday, June 16th, Luke Omodt called a special meeting to get approval to file an application with the City of Sandpoint for a rezone of the 2 parcels of land connected to the Sheriff’s complex and Readiness Center. His motion included stating that the City required this zone change.
Chairman Bradshaw weighed in at this meeting stating he did not want discussion during this meeting as it was “just a formality.”
On Tuesday, July 18th, the Sandpoint Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission held a meeting to discuss these 2 parcels. Commissioner Luke Omodt was in attendance, yet he did not do the presentation. Jeff Jensen of Sewell Engineering was the applicant that made the presentation to the P&Z board.
The 2 parcels under discussion were a larger parcel (2.2 acres) and a smaller strip of land (0.3 acres).
It is interesting that the P&Z commissioners gave no indication that this rezone was necessary, as Omodt stated. When you factor in the final results, as you watch the video, it would seem they were not even “in the loop” as the saying goes, and had no opinion on the issue at all.
During the discussion, it was noted that if the rezone went through on the larger parcel, going from Mixed Use Residential to Rural Residential, that would cause a devaluation of the land.
At no time did Luke Omodt tell the County Commissioners, or the public, that the land would go down in value and the taxpayers would lose money.
Additionally, how did Sewell and Associates apply for the rezone in the first place, as they do not own the land? Were they an official agent or representative for the county? If that was the case, shouldn’t they have told the commissioners that the land would go down in value if this rezone went through?
It was clear during the P&Z meeting that Jensen of Sewell engineering was in control of the application, as Omodt tried to speak during the rebuttal period and was shut down by the board. He was allowed to speak ‘as a citizen’ but not as an applicant.
This is just the first step in the rezone process for the City of Sandpoint. P&Z can only make recommendations to the City Council, who will make the final decision at a future date, not yet determined.
The final recommendations of the P&Z Board was to NOT recommend the rezone for the larger parcel. They did recommend the rezone for the smaller strip of land next to the fence line.
The entire project has been a major waste of time and county resources.
So how much taxpayer money did the county waste on the fantasy pet project of the two CommissionMEN?
Redoubt News did a public records request for copies of invoices for all the monies paid out on RV Campground project from January 1, 2023 through the date of the grant denial.
It shows that the Daily Bee received $260.20, and Sewell & Associates received $7,903.90 for services rendered, for a total of $8,164.10.
You can view them below.
Keep in mind that this total is only up to the date of the grant denial. There are more expenses expected, especially since Sewell engineering is now attending meetings with Luke Omodt, and acting as a county representative. I am sure they are not doing this for free.
The public is now hoping these men will move onto another project, but experience tells us to watch out for it, as they always seem to find a way to regurgitate this subject and bring it back up again.