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The Kootenai County Commissioners decided this morning that they would pull back on their draft “emergency” legislation to extend time to developers to complete projects. Instead, the Commissioners referred the legislation back to the Planning Commission for their evaluation without the “emergency” status.  The poorly-drafted legislation  would have granted developers up to two years of additional time to complete projects upon an application to the County showing economic hardship.

 Commissioner Currie was concerned that any such legislation would need “sidebars” so that the legislation would not be a “complete free ride” to developers. He said he would require that economic hardship be “proven” and “definite” and that extensions of time would only be afforded to “substantially completed” projects. He also noted that there should be a formal process available for hearings and appeals, if necessary, and that a simple request for an extension was not enough justification.

 Commissioner Tondee suggested that after his “first pass” through the legislation, he thought it was an idea “good for the local economy.” However, he said he couldn’t come to terms with the “emergency” designation, and was concerned that the circumstances of this legislation did not constitute a proper emergency as anticipated by the State’s authority. He said he’d rather send the proposal through the Planning Commission to carefully consider “sidebars” as suggested by Commissioner Currie, and to avoid the problems with designating it as an emergency ordinance.

 Commissioner Piazza generally concurred, noting that “something needs to be done” but also that the economic downturn is continuing, and a more extensive solution might be necessary beyond what emergency legislation can accomplish.

 The next steps will be up to the Planning Commission. Stay tuned.

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