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Posts Tagged ‘sprawl’

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.

 

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Nearby residents gather to discuss proposed Clagstone Meadows -- photo by KEA BlackberryCam

Yet another monstrous and ill-advised development proposal is approaching approval, this time in nearby Bonner County. The proposal would place more than a thousand housing units on 12,000 acres just north of Kelso Lake and the Kootenai County line.  Called “Clagstone Meadows,” the sudden city is proposed for  Stimson Lumber timberland northwest of Athol.  It is the largest development ever proposed for Bonner County.

At a meeting Tuesday night, nearby residents gathered to discuss the proposal and what impacts it would bring to their rural community. Our regional conservation colleagues from Idaho Conservation League and Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper, Susan Drumheller and Jennifer Ekstrom, helped facilitate the meeting.


Jennifer Ekstrom and Susan Drumheller listen to residents at Clagstone community meeting -- photo by KEA BlackberryCam

Any development of this size will have an enormous impact, but the impacts will be particularly acute on wildlife and nearby waterways including Beaver Lake, Kelso Lake and Hoodoo Creek. Many of the developers’ plans are still vague, with no concrete answers to how traffic will be managed, how fire protection will occur, and how water rights will be transferred and whether those rights will be adequate for the development.

The proposal has preliminary approval from the Bonner County Planning and Zoning Commission which held hearings in July. The Board of County Commissioners in Bonner County are being asked to give their approval to the large conceptual plan, which will then allow the development process to begin in phases.

Leaders of the Clagstone Meadows Resistance Coalition -- photo by KEA BlackberryCam

Written comments are due by October 8th to the Bonner County Commissioners, who will hold a public hearing on the project October 19th and 20th.  Kootenai Environmental Alliance will submit comments and will join with our colleagues and neighbors in support of the newly-organized (and tough-sounding) “Clagstone Meadows Resistance Coalition” and their efforts to block this enormous boondoggle.

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