Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission
July 16, 2015 Regular Meeting
Attending: John Cranor, Caleb Davis, Kim Peterson, Scott Fuller; Wade Purdom.
Staff: John Moss. Absent: Matt Cossalman, Marciavee Cossette, Tim Heenan, Ron Self.
At 5:30 pm Cranor opened the regular meeting and read the script describing public testimony procedures. At this point Tim Patton requested a place on the Agenda to discuss an amendment to the Planning & Zoning Ordinance. Chairman Cranor placed this request on the Agenda, to follow the scheduled hearing of applicant Richard Merrill (15-066).
Following review of the Agenda, acceptance of the April 16 Minutes was voted on and approved unanimously. Cranor then opened the public hearing to discuss application 15-066, an application submitted by Richard Merrill to grant a variance on the Agriculture/Forestry zone setback requirement of 25 feet from the property line. Following the procedure for a quasi-judicial hearing, Co-Chairman Cranor asked the applicant for an opening statement.
Richard Merrill explained the background as to how he came to determine there was an issue related to the placement of the structure on his property: the contractors he hired were under the impression the setback requirement was 10 feet (not 25 feet) and they in fact went 13 feet 'to be sure' when they laid out the footings for the structure.
Staff presented a Staff Report that identified the applicant (Richard Merrill, present with his wife Barb Merrill) and the specifics of the parcel and setback variance requested.
When it was determined there was nobody present to oppose nor provide a neutral statement regarding the application, the Applicant was asked if he wanted to make a closing statement prior to the P&Z Commission discussing the request.
Richard H. Merrill stated that he was unaware of the exact setback limit and thought his contractors knew the setback. As soon as he realized the discrepancy, Mr. Merrill stopped work on the house and brought the matter to the attention of the Planning & Zoning Department. The Staff Report identified through the use of photos the actual placement of the footings as placed by the contractors. The photos also revealed the topography of the land and how the choice of the spot was a 'natural' regarding view and considering the slope of the hill beside the house which prevented migrating the placement of the building further in that direction. After viewing the Staff Report and listening to Mr. Merrill, the Chairman asked if there was anyone present wishing to speak in favor of the application.
Mr. Tim Patton suggested that the situation was understandable, that the placement of the home was not unreasonable, and that he would approve the application if given the choice. There was no further public comment for, neutral, or opposed to the applicant's request.
Next, the P&Z Commission discussed the application relative to the limits proscribed by the Ordinance. Caleb Davis suggested that the applicant was not infringing on anyone's property, that the place chosen was optimum in minimizing environmental impact, and that in similar circumstances the same would hold true for any applicant. Kim Peterson agreed completely, enumerating each of the points made by Mr. Davis. Ms. Peterson asked whether the UP Railroad would have an objection in the future, and Staff suggested that they had been invited with a specific mailing, and in the absence of any response to both the public notification and the specifically addressed mailing to UPRR, it was highly unlikely that there would be any future concerns expressed by anyone, including UPRR.
Chairman Cranor called for a vote, and Caleb moved to approve, Kim Peterson seconded, and the vote was unanimous for approval. Staff indicated that approval of the Conditional Use provided the impetus to approve and complete the permitting process for the Residential Permit application.
Next on the agenda, Tim Patton introduced himself and said he has a copy of his proposed ordinance and that he is living in Fall Creek; that he is a landscape designer, architect and natural resource planner. Mr. Patton suggested the nature of his proposal was to establish setbacks along streams and waterways which he said were in the previous ordinance but which had somehow been dropped.
To illustrate his concerns, Mr. Patton distributed some photographs depicting the problem of erosion, and distributed a copy of his proposed ordinance change. He stated that we do not provide county guidelines for setbacks and, unlike other counties, there are no provisions to regulate or protect our waterways. He said that in the past we had setbacks for both class 1 and class 2 streams, and he is proposing a buffer area be established in the current ordinance.
As Mr. Patton was describing the nature of his proposal, he was made aware of the need to apply specifically (with a form available for this purpose) to amend a County ordinance. The information being provided, though of interest to all present, needs to be presented to the entire Planning & Zoning Commissioners Board, and with the absence this night of four members, these four would miss receiving the information that Mr. Patton must resubmit with an application.
Staff explained the procedure for amending the ordinance (Section 18.5) and apologized for not conveying the application procedure sooner. Staff also explained that a query to the Forest Service, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Lands revealed that none of these agencies deal with private land, insofar as setbacks are concerned. At this point, recognizing the aforesaid conditions, the meeting adjourned at 7PM by unanimous vote
John B. Moss
John Cranor, Co-Chairman Date