Archive for September, 2009

We received the attached communication from EPA this afternoon, as news leaked out about the decision to go ahead with the East Mission Flats Superfund Repository in Cataldo, Idaho. According to the release, “The final decision to allow the project to move forward was made by Mathy Stanislaus, Assistant Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Solid Waste and Emergency Response. Mr. Stanislaus visited the Bunker Hill Superfund site on August 18 and 19 at the request of Administrator Jackson.

According to the EPA, “Contaminated soils will be disposed of at the EMF Repository until the end of the construction season this year, which is anticipated to be November but depends on dry weather. When fully constructed, the East Mission Flats Repository is expected to safely contain 445,000 cubic yards of waste soils from Basin property cleanups.

Other highlights of the EPA release include commitments for enhanced monitoring and restoring a Community Liaison position. Unfortunately the bottom line remains, the EPA will allow the re-dumping of contaminated soils right back into the floodplain of the Coeur d’Alene river, the regular seasonal flooding of which has caused the extraordinary historical mess in the first place..

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I’ve got the first episode of the new Ken Burns’ PBS series on National Parks recorded on the DVR at home, but I haven’t seen it yet. (So don’t tell me how it turns out.)

So far, the reviews of the series have been uniformly excellent. Well, almost. See this amusing Washington Post review. Are the images too beautiful for the reality of the common experience for most park-goers? Are you “an avid indoorsman” or “that kid you don’t want in your station wagon?”

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As if to emphasize that we’re just now entering the most important part of the deliberations on the Kootenai County comp plan by the Board of County Commissioners, we’ve received this “form letter” being pushed by the Coeur d’Alene Association of Realtors to their members ramp up pressure on the Commissioners.   

We’ve had extensive comments on the draft comp plan, but here are some quick observations on the Realtors’ sample letter:

 1. The comp plan draft is nowhere near “designed to eliminate the possibility of growth in rural areas.”  Instead, it is designed so that rural areas will remain rural when they are growing. Current 5-acre sprawl-sized lots are too small to be rural and too large to be suburban.  Directing growth to urban areas rather than the rural landscape actually makes housing more affordable, services more efficiently provided, and the aquifer better protected.

 2.  The realtors, worried about septic systems on 10-20-acre lots, have it exactly backward.  Realtors should be much more concerned about the current problems with undersized septic systems on 5-acre lots.

 3.  Realtors worrying now about “areas for industrial and commercial development” is confused.  Those decisions would be made in the zoning code and zoning map which will come after the comp plan is adopted.  Indeed, much more worrisome would be to have the comp plan prematurely release rural corridors for unfettered industrial and commercial development.

 4. It IS true that “reasonable growth” can occur “while protecting the natural beauty and resources of this wonderful place.”  But that requires a strong and protective comprehensive plan, not a plan designed only to advance the interests of builders, developers, and realtors whose short-term financial interests should not dictate the long-term plan for Kootenai county.

Anyway, here’s what they put out to their members:


Dear ___________(name of realtor this letter is directed to),
There are serious concerns regarding the overall regulatory nature of the Comprehensive Plan, please take a moment to read the following letter and take action by forwarding it to our county commissioners.
Send a letter to the following decision maker(s):
Kootenai Officials (if you live in Kootenai)

Below is the sample letter:
Subject: Kootenai County Comprehensive Plan 2009

 Dear [decision maker name automatically inserted here],
I have observed the final draft of the Comprehensive Plan and have serious concerns regarding the overall regulatory nature of the Plan as well as the prohibitive and restrictive Land Use Chapter regarding future parcel sizes in Kootenai County.

It seems this Plan is designed to eliminate the possibility of growth in rural areas by increasing the density to 10 or 20 acre minimums which, in my opinion, will make it unaffordable to the majority of the citizens of Kootenai County. I also believe this restriction will create additional urban sprawl and leave homes over the aquifer on septic systems in perpetuity due to the incredible cost of hooking sprawled housing to a community sewer treatment plant.

Additionally, the high density designations the plan has inserted near city boundaries and over the aquifer are solely feel good attempts to appease the concerns of citizens supporting a healthy growth pattern as all of these locations are in areas of City Im pact where the county has no control over what development occurs. The cities have all stated that they too, cannot support this plan.

Further, this Plan does not address areas that make sense for future commercial or industrial development. There are virtually no commercial or industrial land use designations in corridors that would typically be utilized for this type of zoning (along highways and other major arterials). While the Plan does not specifically disallow commercial or industrial development along these corridors, a developer will be required to apply for an amendment to the Comp Plan, then apply for rezoning. This process is expensive, controversial, and unnecessary. I urge you to include commercial and industrial land use designations in the Plan to avoid these problems in the future.

It seems the Planning Commission has not taken into consideration the economic impact this Plan will have on the county. Development and construction have been major drivers of our local economy over the past 20 years or more, creating thousands of jobs and millions of dollars of revenue for local government and our citizens. I feel strongly that we need to have a logical and reasonable growth plan while protecting the natural beauty and resources of this wonderful place we are so fortunate to reside. These are NOT mutually exclusive events and with work we CAN attain both of these goals in this Plan.

I appreciate the incredible resources of public and private citizens the drafting of this Plan has taken but feel strongly that this Plan needs to be remanded back to the Planning Commission with directions to correct these issues or amended by the Board of Commissioners directly.

______________________(your name)
Take Action!


Click here to take action on this issue
What’s At Stake:
This area is used to give indepth information to the Realtor about this issue.  Typically, this area is rather lengthy.
Campaign Expiration Date:
October 1, 2009


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