14.1. PURPOSE: This chapter is the result of analysis of the preceding chapters, and establishes broad objectives regarding the many topics studied, as well as general methods by which those objectives might be attained for the purpose of drafting a zoning and subdivision ordinance which reasonably balances development and growth while conserving those assets the community holds of value, freedom, economic opportunity, property rights, and a vibrant community surrounded by abundant natural resources. The data in the preceding chapters as well as the information in this chapter serve not only to allow analysis of specific land use proposals, but to educate those proposing development that which the citizens of Boundary County deem important.
14.2. PROPERTY RIGHTS: Boundary County recognizes the primacy of the rights of property ownership as established by the United States Constitution, the Idaho State Constitution and the laws of Idaho, and recognizes that every property owner has both the right to the use of property as well as the expectation that adjacent land uses will not unduly abrogate that inherent right.
14.2.1. Article 1, Section 1 of the Idaho State Constitution defines the inalienable rights of man, stating, “All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety.” Freedom is the greatest resource in Boundary County and is found in great measure here.
14.2.2. Great freedom comes with a larger responsibility to be considerate of our neighbors. Boundary County encourages planners, property owners and all citizens to respect one another. Boundary County encourages those planning development within the county to consider the concerns of adjacent property owners, and that they address those concerns, where possible, cooperatively and early in their planning process. Likewise, Boundary County encourages the owners of properties adjacent to a proposed development to refrain from opposing merely because of proximity, but that they give fair hearing to proposals, realistically assess potential adverse impacts they might face, offer ideas that might sufficiently mitigate those concerns and, when no remedy is available, that they avail themselves of their right to be heard through the public hearing process, that their interests may be fairly weighed.
14.2.3. Boundary County policy is to establish fair and equitable land use ordinances, laws and regulations such that each property owner within the jurisdiction of Boundary County may lawfully enjoy the widest use of land with assurance that surrounding land uses, lawfully established, will not unduly infringe upon their enjoyment of property.
14.2.4. Boundary County will purposely enact no land use law, nor render any land use decision, which constitutes a taking of private property, as enunciated at Title 67, Chapter 80, Idaho Code.
14.3. NATURAL RESOURCES: State and federal agencies provide extensive regulation sufficient to protect Boundary County’s natural resources. Developments impacting these resources are subject to requirements of state and federal agencies. Boundary County land use regulations should not duplicate these requirements or enforce them on behalf of other agencies. Nor should Boundary County attempt to represent or interpret the changing regulatory landscape on behalf of developers.
14.3.1. SURFACE WATER: Boundary County recognizes the value of its surface water resources and their aesthetic appeal and importance to local ecosystems, as well as their desirability for recreational use and residential development. State and federal agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the State of Idaho Department of Environmental Quality provide sufficient protection for these resources.
220.127.116.11. Boundary County encourages the voluntary use of best management practices as established by the agency regulating the specific type use in the development of sites adjacent to surface water features so as to protect both those waters and riparian areas.
18.104.22.168. Natural vegetative buffers surrounding surface waters are important to the health of surface waters. Boundary County can assure these buffers by encouraging voluntary development practices that promote the retention of natural vegetation and the least ground disturbance necessary to accommodate development needs.
14.3.2. BEACHES AND SHORELINES: Boundary County recognizes that those lands immediately surrounding surface water, to include beaches, shorelines and alluvial fans, are integral to the health of the water body itself and add to the scenic beauty of Boundary County. It is also recognized that these areas are, by their nature, desirable for development.
14.3.3. WETLANDS: Boundary County recognizes the ecological significance of wetlands.
The Idaho Department of Lands, the Idaho Department of Water Resources, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulate development proposed within wetlands as identified on Boundary County GIS maps using data provided by those agencies. All matters pertaining to wetland designation and management should be directed to the Walla Walla District of the US Army Corps of Engineers, which coordinates with the Idaho Departments of Land and Water Resources.
22.214.171.124. Wetlands may be afforded protection by notifying development permit applicants of the presence of wetlands and providing them contact information for the US Army Corps of Engineers. Consideration of uses requiring a public hearing within a wetland may include information solicited from the US Army Corps of Engineers gathered through the public hearing process. Wetlands may be further protected by prohibiting establishment of the residential portion of clustered subdivisions within them.
14.3.4. SUBSURFACE WATERS: Boundary County recognizes the importance of aquifers and groundwater to its citizens, as well as that limited information available on the abundance, distribution and quality of such water sources. Boundary County recognizes that future planning decisions as regard subsurface waters are likely to be based on insufficient data.
126.96.36.199. The State of Idaho Water Resources Board is currently in a long-term program to identify, map and assess groundwater basins throughout the state. Boundary County policy should encourage the development of a groundwater basin plan for the Kootenai River Basin.
Upon completion, the results of this study should be incorporated into the Boundary County Comprehensive Plan so as to identify the extent of subsurface water resources, both to identify aquifers that currently supply water or could supply water in the future and those aquifers that are insufficient to accommodate development or that could be degraded by development activity.
14.3.5. FISHERIES: Boundary County recognizes the value of its fisheries and promotes measures to enhance both the health and quality of these resources.
14.3.6. WILDLIFE: Boundary County recognizes the importance of its wildlife as well as the vast public lands already managed for habitat conservation.
14.3.7. SOILS: Boundary County possesses a variety of soil types which directly support other attributes described herein as well as affect development.
188.8.131.52. A study titled “Soil Survey of Boundary County Area, Idaho,” was developed in 2005 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Natural Resource Conservation Service, providing a thorough study of soil types throughout Boundary County, including development considerations unique to each. A copy of this study is maintained in the Planning and Zoning office as a reference resource to be used in the evaluation of development proposals.
184.108.40.206. Boundary County encourages development practices designed to protect against soil erosion and slide potential, such as re-vegetation of exposed areas and slope stabilization measures.
220.127.116.11. The suitability of soils to support septic disposal should be considered on all platted subdivisions.
18.104.22.168. Boundary County possesses many soil types which support agriculture, including lands lying along the Kootenai River identified on the accompanying Boundary County Comprehensive Land Use Map as Prime Agriculture. Boundary County policy should encourage preservation of these arable soils by reducing development density and encouraging clustered development in those areas more marginally suited for agriculture production.
14.3.8. VEGETATION: Boundary County possesses a wide variety of vegetation, including native, cultivated and invasive. Boundary County land use policy should encourage the retention of native and cultivated plant species while reducing or eliminating invasive species.
22.214.171.124. Boundary County land use policy should encourage the retention of those areas identified on the Comprehensive Land Use Map as prime forestry, as well as promote multiple uses of forests and stewardship of the renewable resources they provide by reducing development density.
126.96.36.199. Boundary County land use policy may encourage the retention of those areas identified on the Comprehensive Land Use Map as Prime Agriculture by reducing development density
188.8.131.52. Boundary County recognizes the need to control and eradicate noxious weeds, and progress in this effort can be improved by ensuring that the Boundary County Weed Control Superintendent is notified of proposed development and by encouraging those proposing development to participate in noxious weed control programs offered.
14.3.9. MINERALS: Boundary County recognizes the need for the extraction of mineral resources as well as the fact that these resources must be extracted where they exist. In addition, it is recognized that mining and mineral extraction can be a long term and intensive use that can adversely affect surrounding land uses. Boundary County policy is to reasonably balance the need for mineral extraction while providing protection to existing land uses.
184.108.40.206.The Idaho State Land Commission, the Bureau of Mines, the Idaho Department of Lands, the Department of Environmental Quality and other state and federal agencies establish regulation requirements regarding surface and subsurface mining and mineral extraction. Boundary County should not duplicate these regulatory requirements, but require proof of compliance prior to final approval of any proposed mining development.
220.127.116.11. Boundary County can balance the need for mineral extraction and provide protection to surrounding property owners by identifying those usage zones, such as high-density residential zones, which are incompatible with mineral extraction and restrict or prohibit mineral extraction in these zones.
18.104.22.168. Boundary County can mitigate the potential adverse impacts of mineral extraction by establishing setback requirements of pits or mines from property boundaries and by requiring the retention of buffer areas.
14.4.1. STATE HIGHWAYS: Boundary County recognizes that highways maintained by the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) comprise the primary arteries for the county ground transportation system and are essential to the transport of people and goods into, out of and within Boundary County. Boundary County land use policy is to maintain and improve the safety and efficiency of state highways within Boundary County through cooperation with ITD.
22.214.171.124. Off-premise billboard signage may be prohibited throughout the non-commercial areas of Boundary County.
126.96.36.199. The Idaho Transportation Department establishes approach, ingress and egress requirements on all new commercial and residential accesses to state highways within Boundary County.
14.4.2. COUNTY ROADS: Boundary County Road and Bridge is responsible for maintaining a county ground transportation network. Boundary County land use policy is to protect the county taxpayer from the cost of building roads necessary to accommodate new development and to project future transportation needs in cooperation with Boundary County Road and Bridge Department.
188.8.131.52. Increased residential and commercial density should be situated in those areas of the county served by existing roads sufficient to accommodate such density. Conversely, development densities should be reduced where roads, by reason of inadequate rights of way or restrictive terrain, cannot be adequately upgraded to safely accommodate increases in growth.
184.108.40.206. Planning decisions should take into account the ability of the combined system of state, county and private roads to provide access for adequate emergency services, particularly fire. Wildfire can spread rapidly and threaten large areas. In the event of evacuation, care must be given to ensure sufficient egress even as emergency service personnel, including those operating large fire apparatus, are making ingress to confront the fire.
220.127.116.11. Boundary County Road and Bridge establishes approach, ingress and egress placement and construction standards on all drives and approaches connecting to the county road system. Boundary County Planning may incorporate these requirements as part of the development approval process by notifying Road and Bridge of land use proposals and by requiring a permit for new driveway access to county roads.
14.4.3. BICYCLE AND PEDESTRIAN ROUTES: Boundary County recognizes the value of non-motorized, multi-use paths and trails both in providing for safe pedestrian traffic and for the recreational opportunities such equestrian, hiking and bicycling trails afford. Boundary County encourages the development of such paths and trails, as well as provisions for their inner-connectivity. Many light use rural county roads serve this function, especially in the valley Prime Ag lands. The bike path designation of Riverside Street between Bonners Ferry and the Kootenai Wildlife Refuge is an example.
18.104.22.168. In coordination with the Idaho Transportation Department and County Road and Bridge, Boundary County planners should encourage and assist in the development, in transportation plans, of a system of non-motorized, multi-use paths and trails, focusing initially on community centers and expanding along transportation corridors as opportunities arise so as to eventually develop a connected pedestrian transportation system.
14.4.4. RAILROADS: Boundary County recognizes the role railroads play in serving the local economy as well as their potential to foster and support centralized industrial and commercial growth. Additionally, it is recognized that increased growth in those areas served by roads crossed by railroad tracks increase the safety risks associated with these crossings. Boundary County should use to its advantage the former, while working to reduce the latter risk.
22.214.171.124.Rail lines are strategically positioned to support industrial and commercial growth in and near Bonners Ferry, and could play a crucial role in transporting solid waste out of the county should the local landfill be forced to close. In addition, rail lines can and do play a major role in transporting locally abundant commodities, including wood material and vegetable matter which could be used for ethanol production, to both foreign and domestic markets. Railroads and rail access should be considered when planning suitable sites for commercial and industrial zoning.
126.96.36.199. Railroad crossings should be carefully considered in planning for increased residential and commercial growth so as to provide for the safety of motorists and for the efficient flow of traffic, both road and rail. New crossings should be avoided and, where feasible, existing crossings should be eliminated. In those cases where railroad crossings cannot be avoided, those crossing should be monitored so as to determine if and when installation of crossing safety devices is necessary.
14.4.5. AIRPORTS: Boundary County concurs with and ratifies the policy of the State of Idaho in declaring that any hazard to the safety of air flight may cause disastrous and needless loss of life and property, that safety of air flight is of paramount importance for the protection and well-being of its citizens, and that air traffic and the use of airspace is constantly increasing and is vital to continued economic growth, development and enjoyment of the resources of Boundary County. Boundary County land use policy supports the growth and development of the Boundary County Airport so as to both avail itself the benefits the airport provides while ensuring the safety of people, both on the ground and in the air.
188.8.131.52. The Boundary County Airport is owned and operated by Boundary County and managed by an appointed airport board overseen by Boundary County Commissioners, subject to federal and state aviation requirements. Establishing a separate zone district specific to the airport proper and ceding land use jurisdiction directly to the Board of County Commissioners would facilitate the growth and development of the Boundary County Airport.
184.108.40.206. Conflicts with residential development around airports have historically been a major factor in the forced closure of airports nationwide. The Boundary County Airport is ideally situated to serve the community as well as to expand to meet future air transportation needs. Boundary County planning can further this potential by establishing low density commercial zoning around the airport and restricting uses incompatible with airport operations and safety, such as residential use and uses which congregate large numbers of people beneath those areas used by aircraft utilizing airport facilities, particularly for takeoff and approach.
220.127.116.11. The safety of both aviators and those on the ground, as well as the operability of the airport, can be enhanced by the establishment and enforcement of height restriction overlays as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, and by informing the airport manager of development proposals within those overlay zones.
18.104.22.168. Those seeking to establish residential use within one mile of the Boundary County airport should be made aware, in writing, that they will live near an active airport and be subject to occasional high noise levels both day and night.
14.5. PUBLIC SERVICES, FACILITIES AND UTILITIES: Boundary County recognizes that public services, facilities and utilities are essential to public health and safety, but that the level of services desired varies among individual property owners and residents. Public services, facilities and utilities should be considered in rendering land use decisions specific to the use proposed so as to ascertain their suitability to accommodate the proposed use. Where utilities and services are limited or not provided, that disclosure is made so as to protect potential purchasers of property.
14.5.1. Sewage Disposal: In high-density zones, minimum parcel sizes for proposed developments should vary based on the availability of services. Where both community water and sewer is available, density can be increased; where community water service but not sewer service is available, a minimum parcel size should be established to reasonably accommodate a septic system; and where neither community water or sewer service are available, a larger minimum parcel should be established to accommodate both a well and a septic system.
14.5.3. Water Supplies: Developers proposing residential subdivisions on lots, parcels or tracts of land should be required to provide a plan for the availability of water or written disclosure to potential buyers that water availability is not assured.
14.5.4. Fire Stations and Fire Fighting Equipment: Boundary County should always consider the inherent danger of wildfire in Boundary County and the contributions made by local volunteer fire departments, associations and districts. Fire mitigation plans should be included in all proposals for the establishment of commercial or industrial use and for the development of subdivisions. Those proposing development within Boundary County should be made aware, in writing, of the fire association or district providing coverage.
14.5.5. Solid Waste Disposal: The Boundary County Landfill operates under Subtitle D restrictions and is facing closure within the next several years at considerable expense to county taxpayers. The flow of solid waste into the Boundary County Landfill should be considered when evaluating land use proposals and alternative disposal methods encouraged in the interest of retaining an open landfill for the longest possible time.
14.6. SCHOOL FACILITIES AND TRANSPORTATION: Boundary County appreciates the role the county’s public school system plays in the economic infrastructure, and will continue to provide School District 101 information and data on land use proposals, particularly subdivisions, and trends that the district may accommodate and plan for future facility and transportation needs, without burdening future development with added cost or regulation.
14.6.1. Boundary County encourages and promotes the inclusion of features designed to assure student safety to and from school in residential subdivision proposals, including but not limited to pedestrian paths, student shelters and bus pull-off or turnout areas.
14.6.2. Boundary County recognizes the benefit of private schools and alternatives to the public school system and encourages such schools to provide students diverse educational opportunities.
14.7. HAZARDOUS AREAS: The Boundary County All-Hazard Mitigation Plan (http://www.boundarycountyid.org/emermgmt/mitigationplan/index.htm) first developed in 2005 and to be updated regularly, offers the clearest assessment of naturally-occurring hazards in Boundary County, and forms the primary plan for responding to most natural disasters within Boundary County. The Boundary County All-Hazard Plan is a prime reference for Planning & Zoning considerations; one of the principle roles of county government is to protect the lives and property of its citizens, and county land use policy should establish development standards and restrictions to protect against potential hazards, particularly threats from wildfire, flood and ground failure.
14.7.1. Boundary County supports and encourages participation in fire mitigation programs to reduce wild fire on both public and private lands, particularly in those drainage areas that provide water to Boundary County residents. Boundary County should encourage road building on public lands so firefighters can significantly combat wildfire and have better escape routes.
14.7.2. Boundary County participates in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s flood insurance program, and all development within flood plains as identified on FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps shall meet FEMA requirements prior to county approval.
14.7.3. Boundary County can minimize the threat of damage from ground failure by establishing clustered development standards so that development can be consolidated into areas not at risk from such damage and that areas may be set aside for uses not endangered should ground failure occur.
14.7.4. Railroads move vast quantities of hazardous materials through the county every day. Boundary County may reduce the life safety threat from a train derailment by reducing subdivision density immediately adjacent to rail lines.
14.8. SPECIAL AREAS OR SITES:
14.8.1. Areas of Historical Significance: Boundary County recognizes those sites and areas identified by the Idaho National Historical Society as being of historical significance.
Boundary County has a collection of architecturally and historically significant structures, including barns, agricultural structures, cabins, schools and community halls which contribute to the heritage and rural characteristics treasured by county residents. Boundary County land use policy should promote the preservation of these structures through its support of the Boundary County Historical Society, but not through coercive means.
14.8.2. Exempt Jurisdictions:
22.214.171.124. Kootenai Tribe: It is recognized that lands comprising Kootenai Tribal Headquarters are sovereign to the Kootenai Tribe, and they are hereby exempt from the provisions herein as well as Boundary County land use and subdivision ordinances to be enacted.
126.96.36.199. Government Forest Lands: Forest lands owned or managed by agencies of state or federal government, may be designated Prime Forestry to indicate their separate management and low residential density.
14.9. RECREATION: Boundary County recognizes the importance of recreation to citizens and visitors and encourages the highest level of access to public areas in which recreational activities have traditionally been enjoyed. Boundary County should continue to be responsive to the citizens of the community to ensure a variety of recreational opportunities appealing to people of all ages.
14.9.1. Parks, Public Lands and Campgrounds: Boundary County land use policy promotes the retention of access to federal and state land for community recreation of all kinds, including hiking, backpacking and camping, bicycling, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, snowmobiling and off-road vehicle riding.
14.9.2. Boundary County Parks and Recreation: Boundary County has in place a system of parks, playing fields, trails and playgrounds managed by an appointed Parks and Recreation Board. Boundary County land use policy will be to encourage compatible development around existing parks.
14.9.3. Non-Motorized Trails: Boundary County encourages open areas and interconnected access to existing paths and recreational areas in future developments.
14.9.4. Water-Related Recreation: Boundary County encourages the preservation of access to those surface waters traditionally enjoyed for recreation.
14.9.5. Events: Recreational and entertainment events have the potential to draw large numbers of people to Boundary County. While such events are a benefit to the community, they can place temporary burdens on local transportation, law enforcement and other infrastructure. Boundary County should set reasonable standards on such events to ensure that adequate health and safety services are provided for those attending as well as to mitigate potential adverse impacts to the general public.
14.10. POPULATION: Boundary County land use regulations should be designed to accommodate a growing population while protecting the rural character and quality of life values most responsible for the attractiveness of our community. Boundary County should continue to monitor the latest and best available demographic data.
14.11. COMMUNITY DESIGN: Boundary County encourages that development be designed to conform to the objectives established by this comprehensive plan, but sees no need to specifically establish regulation governing landscaping, tree plantings, or standards for community design, development and beautification, trusting instead that those who propose development will have their own vision of how their projects should look, and that their vision will be developed in the interest of being a good neighbor and in compliance with established law.
14.11.1. To encourage the best use of land in a manner that will allow preservation of those values this community desires to retain while affording property owners the ability to maximize value, Boundary County should establish provisions for clustered development. Such development would not increase overall density, other than possibly through appropriate use of Transfer of Development Rights but allow residential development to be condensed into a smaller portion of the subdivision. It would also set aside areas restricted to development so as to preserve productive agriculture and timber lands, and to avoid development in areas with surface water, alluvial fans, riparian areas, wetlands, sensitive wildlife habitat, excessive slopes, and those at risk from natural hazards, including areas subject to ground failure, fire and flood.
14.11.2. Boundary County encourages design practices that retain natural vegetation and that blend with the land so as to retain scenic beauty.
14.12. HOUSING: Boundary County recognizes the need for safe and affordable housing, and also recognizes that people have the right to build or buy the home that best serves their individual needs, desires and circumstance.
14.12.1. Boundary County can promote affordable housing by imposing no county building codes. Freedom from a county building code is both a valued asset and a means to home ownership for many in the county.
14.12.2. As land is a major factor in the price of a home, Boundary County can promote affordable housing by establishing higher density zones, where infrastructure permits, and by establishing provisions for the development of multi-family housing and clustered development.
14.12.3. Boundary County may further provide for affordable housing by allowing conveyance of residential development rights. Transferring a development right from Prime Agriculture lands adds an extra parcel as an increased density bonus to a subdivision located in a suitable, less agriculturally productive area in another zone.
14.13. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT: The desire of this plan is to enhance the economic condition of Boundary County by influencing the development of policies that encourage enterprise, agricultural and forestry job development, industrial growth and commercial development in a way that will maintain the county’s rural qualities by ensuring compatibility within land use classifications. Small and home-based businesses found throughout the county form the foundation of economic growth and development in Boundary County, and land use policies can continue to encourage their establishment and retention by minimizing regulation.
14.13.1. Use of public lands has a great impact on the prosperity of Boundary County. Timber Harvest from private and especially public lands provide critical jobs for the community and needed funding for public schools. Boundary County should engage in talks with public lands administrators to encourage timber harvest matching replacement growth rates and increased public road access for timber harvest, recreation and fire protection.
14.13.2. Valley Farm Land provides stable long term jobs for the community. Farmers often find themselves at odds with nearby neighbors over the normal dust, noise, chemicals, and smoke inherent to farming. Boundary County affirms the State of Idaho “Right to Farm Act.” Conventional impacts from farming should be considered a normal and acceptable land use.
14.14. LAND USE: The purpose of this Comprehensive Plan and accompanying Comprehensive Land Use Map has been to gauge the will of the citizens of Boundary County so that land use and subdivision ordinances and a land use zoning map can be developed in accord with the goals established herein, bringing into balance the diverse views expressed.
14.14.1. Zone district designations should be established recognizing the value of the county’s agricultural and timber land, centering areas for residential and commercial growth in those areas where adequate infrastructure exists.
14.14.2. The compatibility of a land use is often a function of the scale of the use and its proximity to neighbors. Therefore, larger uses will fit better in lower density zones. Uses which could not be made compatible should be prohibited, so property owners within those zones have clear knowledge of what they can do on their property as well as what neighbors may do on theirs. Boundary County has a history of enterprise located throughout the rural lands, not just concentrated in the towns. This ability to earn a living on the land should be retained and delineated in the zone description.
14.14.3. While uses currently in place at the time of adoption of the new ordinance will be able to continue, Boundary County should recognize that uses established which constitute public nuisance or blight, including but not limited to un-regulated junk yards, and establish a mechanism by which such uses, when not brought into compliance with standards drafted, may be abated.