The Bonner County Commissioners didn’t even blink when, yesterday, they approved the Sandpiper Shores subdivision on the north end of Priest Lake. The development crams 14 building lots on narrow uplands above a rare and valuable wetland habitat. Ignoring several hours of testimony about wildlife impacts, wetland impacts, and legal inconsistencies, the Bonner County Commissioners unanimously allowed the development to move forward.
The 72 acre site contains more than 50 acres of undevelopable wetlands and highly important habitat. The developer, however, was given approval for a development density as if the entire site was developable. By doing so, the proposed site plan effectively chokes off wildlife passage to and from the wetland habitat. It also makes it impossible for the development to comply with setback requirements and wildfire protection guidelines that would have otherwise been required.
None of which bothered the Bonner County Commissioners for more than a half-second. What little deliberation that did occur focused on whether a proposed boardwalk to nowhere would be limited to “non-motorized” vehicles or, their favored, vehicles “without internal combustion engines.” Our congratulations to the Commissioners for arranging those particular deck chairs so nicely.
We expect that the Commissioners’ thin decision-making will lead everyone to a Bonner County courtroom. It was a bad decision for Bonner County, and a bad day for Priest Lake.