As uncomfortable as we are using the word “finish” in the same sentence as “comp plan,” we think the Kootenai County Commissioners are approaching the big decisions they have been putting off for almost a year now. At the conclusion of their most recent deliberations meeting last week, the Commissioners had only a page-and-a-half left to do in their line-by-line editing of the controversial land use chapter. The Commissioners will then, finally, need to return to the controversial issue of what range of development density is appropriate in the County’s rural areas. Only then will they be able to turn their attention to comp plan’s land use map.
A major sprawl-inducing flaw in the existing comp plan (which was approved back in the mid 1990s) is that rural areas are designated with a density of one house per five acres. But this density is too dense to maintain a rural character, but not dense enough to provide suburban-level services. This density does not allow for orderly annexation and development of our cities, it will threaten our lakes and other scenic resources, will drain tax dollars to fund roads and other services to sprawling development, and it will fundamentally result in a wasteful use of land.
The draft comprehensive plan – the one delivered to the Commissioners more than a year ago from the Planning Commission – maintains that the rural areas should be less dense – with a maximum development density of one house per ten acres, ranging to as low as one house in twenty acres.
The Commissioners have two more deliberations scheduled – May 10th at 4pm and May 13th at 5pm. Someday soon, the important decisions will need to be made.