P&Z Minutes Jan. 21 2016

Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission
January 21, 2016 Regular Meeting

Attending: Kim Peterson, John Cranor, Caleb Davis, Marciavee Cossette, Scott Fuller, Tim Heenan, Wade Purdom, Ron Self
Staff: John Moss. Absent: Matt Cossalman, Tevis Hull

At 5:30 pm Co-Chairman John Cranor opened the regular meeting and asked for an approval of the minutes from the December 17 meeting. Self moved to accept. Davis seconded, and the minutes were approved by all except Cossalman (absent) and Peterson (absent Dec 17 meeting).

Present at the meeting were: Alan Sandaker; representing himself.

{ Planning & Zoning minutes are transcribed from the conversation that takes place during the meeting. Topics are condensed, eliminating verbatim comment in order to condense the material. Key points are included in this extraction and all votes taken are recorded.}

Co-chair Cranor, acting as Chairman in the absence of Cossalman, led a Variance hearing applied for by Alan Sandaker (16-014) to allow a duplex on his land after requesting the parcel be split (in a subsequent Urban Subdivision application) such that the duplex would straddle a parcel line.

Prior to starting the hearing, it was determined that Self had a conflict of interest and would recuse himself. Cranor then asked the applicant to make an opening statement.

Mr. Sandaker said that he had two lots as part of a subdivision that had been established in 2009. He combined the two lots into one so he could place a duplex on it. This was done because setback requirements prevented him from placing the duplex on a parcel line. After placing the duplex on the property, in accordance with ITD access requirements, the east side of the duplex can only be accessed from Highway 95, and the west side of the duplex can only be accessed from Funkhouser Road via his new driveway, Alfy Way. He said there are a couple of reasons for doing this, and he’s not Mr. Nice Guy because he’s trying to make something off this, obviously, but from an investor’s side, they want to invest and get about 1% yield and in Boundary County there’s not a lot of new affordable housing and he could get a little bit more for his land if he sold to an investor. He said he created an investment that for $800 a month someone can buy for $135 thousand dollars a 1425 square foot home with a 2 car garage having individual easement access. The duplex has built-in separate utilities for electricity, sewer and water, provided by the city in anticipation of being annexed to Bonners Ferry.
He said he wants to do something in Boundary County that we can’t do here. This is done in other counties, but the ordinance doesn’t let it be done here. He had a duplex on the road, and because he couldn’t put it on two lots he had to create one parcel in order to set the duplex down. He wants to sell the duplex not to an investor but to an individual who can afford to pay $135 thousand dollars for a 1425 square foot home. The individual would be paying about $800 a month for housing that is affordable and this was his goal in building this duplex, to create affordable housing.

When questioned by the Planning & Zoning Commission, Mr. Sandaker said that the duplex was manufactured by Kit Homes out of Boise, Idaho. He said that most people can’t qualify to buy the whole thing.. It’s designed like that, it’s got separate insulation. It’s a manufactured home, not a mobile home, with wood flooring and a solid design. Someone can afford to buy it for payments between $700 and $800 a month, taxes included. It is 100% mirror image, 3 bedroom 2 bath on either side, kitchen… everything is copied on both sides, everything but a washer and dryer. He explained that although he wants to sell the duplex as a single unit, but that qualifying for both pushes the buyer out of the market. If the buyer qualifies for renting at $800 month he qualifies for buying one side at the same cost.
Mr. Sandaker further explained that he is asking to put those lots back the way they were so he can sell his duplex as two houses.. To obey the ordinance he combined the two lots. He bought the homes at a fire sale, and they were on the road to be delivered. He wanted to obey the ordinance which is why he combined the lots.

Cranor asked Staff for a Staff Report and a Staff Analysis.
Staff said that this request for variance is based on the need to place a duplex on the common parcel line shared by both sides of the duplex in a proposed subsequent permit application to subdivide the existing parcel into two lots. The background here is that this request was tabled last month because the solution seemed to be to allow a simple split of the parcel. However, in the immediate circumstance this option is not available. Last month’s hearing was tabled in order to investigate options for getting this parcel back into its two-lot condition. The mechanism for doing so is to create an Urban Subdivision. However, two things had to happen: first, cancel the applicant’s request for a simple split. This has been done. Second, reword this variance to apply to a future condition for this specific parcel, such that IF this variance is approved, a subsequent application to place a duplex on the parcel line shared by two lots so subdivided would constitute an approved variation to ordinance restrictions concerning setback distance along the common parcel line.
The procedure for permitting an Urban Subdivision involves a long plat. This means that the request to subdivide this parcel will be reviewed by this body, and if approved will be turned over to the County Commissioners for their approval. An approval for a variance at this point opens the door for the long plat procedure which incorporates two more hearings.

Upon questioning Staff further, it was revealed that Staff originally didn’t understand the applicant’s desire to sell the two sides separately. When following Staff’s suggestion, the two lots disappeared. The duplex was set down. Now, the problem is, how to get back to the two lots, with the duplex in place. In addition to what we heard last month, when Mr. Sandaker made his initial application he was working with Mr. Weland, (the Planning & Zoning Administrator in 2009) and Mr. Boorman, the City Manager of Bonners Ferry. The Ordinance in place at that time stated specifically that parcels zoned Residential in Boundary County and which were within the Area of Impact, as this property is, were to be treated as though they actually were within the locale they approximated. In other words, when Mr. Boorman discussed this development with Mr. Sandaker and asked him, in exchange for providing Mr. Sandaker with city utilities (water, electricity, sewer) to agree to annex to the City, Mr. Sandaker signed an agreement to the purpose. He was then given those utilities and water lines, sewer lines and electricity were supplied by Bonners Ferry for this property. It was the understanding shared by Mr. Sandaker, Mr. Weland and Mr. Boorman that the annexation of the property would not pose any problem (city zoning rules would apply) and setback restrictions were not considered a problem because of pending annexation.
Staff pointed out that the applicant has complied with ITD requirements by building a solid fence along what was the parcel line separating the two lots. This fence serves to prevent traffic from utilizing access not permitted to each side of the duplex. Simply put, each side is limited to being able to gain access only through the driveway established for each side, blocked by the fence from accessing the mirror side of the duplex.

Mr. Sandaker was asked to make a closing statement.
The applicant said he understands that he’s making an application for a variance that will allow him to apply for an Urban Subdivision. This would allow him to reestablish his original two lots with the duplex already built if the Urban Subdivision is approved. So first he has to ask for this variance, then ask for an Urban Subdivision to be approved in a subsequent application. In Boundary County affordable housing is very hard to come by and we don’t have high income level up here, based on available statistics, so by doing this it makes something available to people that isn’t available right now He stated that’s an advantage to the community and he would be able to sell them separately, benefiting both sides.

Cranor stated the public portion of the meeting was closed.
In discussion the Planning and Zoning Commission came to understand that whenever development takes place within the Area of Impact (in this case Bonners Ferry), the Administrator has to copy the City in the Staff Report and let them express any issue or concerns. At the time of his initial application, in 2009, Mr. Boorman and Mr. Sandaker agreed to an understanding that if Mr. Sandaker used City water, power and sewer services he would also agree to be annexed by the City. Such annexation never took place.

Davis stated the need to look at this from a historical perspective. It might be true that in the City of Bonners Ferry the proximity of one structure to another may or may not have restrictions, but in Boundary County there are clearly setback limitations that are set by ordinance. The ordinance is clear in this regard, and the individual has created a situation in contradiction to what is allowed in this county. Because he has brought this upon himself, it should not be the responsibility of this Commission to change the ordinance to meet his needs, nor grant a variance, as it says in the considerations, that we wouldn’t grant to anyone else in similar circumstances. He has created the circumstance contrary to ordinance provisions. It should not be the responsibility of the P&Z Commission to waive the ordinance just because of someone’s placing themselves in violation of that ordinance, that he brought this on himself; he bought the property, he had to do something with it.

When considering “whether the grant of variance would be detrimental to the general public welfare, create a public hazard or be injurious to property or improvements in the immediate vicinity”, it was pointed out last month that access to the highway was potentially injurious. However, ITD signed off on the access after conditions they imposed were complied with.

The Commission felt that the applicant wouldn’t get the city utilities without the agreement he signed, and although never annexed he behaved as though this were the option on the table: No agreement, no utilities.

Cranor asked Staff for clarification: the setback is the one and only thing we are considering at this point; that is the variance we are here to decide.

Staff said that is correct. To be perfectly clear, this request is for this specific parcel number, so that when he comes back with a request for an Urban Subdivision to be approved he will come back to this same group of people to plead his case. The difference is that the placement of the duplex on the common parcel line will have been approved as a variance related to setback requirements for this duplex, on the shared parcel line. At that time, and as part of the long plat procedure, this Commission will be able to approve the application for an Urban Subdivision and pass this recommendation to the County Commissioners. You will say we have approved this Urban Subdivision with the variance related to the setback requirement and it is up to the County Commissioners to grant final approval. If they deny the applicant he is right back to where he is now: compliant but with his duplex on a single parcel and dealing with the issues he faces now related to making available his structure to the marketplace.
Davis moved to allow Mr. Sandaker to address the Commission one more time. Seconded by Heenan. Voting: John Cranor – Aye, Caleb Davis – Aye, Marciavee Cossette - Aye, Scott Fuller - Aye, Tim Heenan - Aye, Wade Purdom - Aye, Ron Self – Recused, Kim Peterson - Aye. Absent: Matt Cossalman. The motion carried and Mr. Sandaker was called to take the microphone.

Davis asked if the structure could have been placed on one of his properties without a setback violation.

Mr. Sandaker said that he could have placed it on one of them, but just barely. There being no further questions, Mr. Sandaker sat down.

Scott Fuller moved the application be approved, seconded by Kim Peterson. Cranor then asked each Commission member to give their opinion concerning the motion.
Davis said that there are no special circumstances intrinsic to the parcel (such as, its shape size or features - Consideration and that the Commission would be granting special privileges to this property owner (Consideration because of the circumstances he has created. His needs are self-imposed so they are special and the Commission doesn’t know if they would be granted to anybody in similar circumstances; he then asked to have this on the record that we disagree.
Members of the Commission agreed with the petitioner that there is a need for low income housing in the community, and this would provide that benefit. And with no further discussion a vote to approve the application as moved by Fuller and seconded by Peterson was called for. Voting: John Cranor – Aye, Caleb Davis – Abstain, Marciavee Cossette - Aye, Scott Fuller - Aye, Tim Heenan - Aye, Wade Purdom - Aye, Ron Self – Recused, Kim Peterson - Aye. Absent: Matt Cossalman. The motion carries and the variance is approved.

Cranor then opened the meeting to elect Planning & Zoning officers. He read Section 3.6.7. regarding the election procedure for the election of officers, but before proceeding further both Cranor and Fuller expressed an interest in continuing on the Commission for another term. Both Cranor and Fuller had received a letter from the Commissioners stating their term was up, and both asked Staff to let the Commissioners know of their continued wish to remain on the Commission. Staff agreed to communicate their wish to the Commissioners.

Cranor then called for nominations for the position of chairman. Self nominated Peterson, Heenan nominated Davis, and a vote was taken. (Voting: John Cranor – Peterson, Caleb Davis – Davis, Marciavee Cossette - Davis, Scott Fuller - Peterson, Tim Heenan - Davis, Wade Purdom - Davis, Ron Self – Peterson, Kim Peterson - Peterson. Absent: Matt Cossalman) According to Section 3.6.7. a tie is to be broken by the chairman, who was absent. Self suggested calling Matt Cossalman by speakerphone to cast the tie-breaking vote. All agreed and Cossalman voted for Peterson, who became the new chairman.

Cranor declined to be nominated for the office of co-chair but nominated Davis for that office. The vote was unanimous (Voting: John Cranor – Davis, Caleb Davis – Davis, Marciavee Cossette - Davis, Scott Fuller - Davis, Tim Heenan - Davis, Wade Purdom - Davis, Ron Self – Davis, Kim Peterson - Davis. Absent: Matt Cossalman) and Davis became the new co-chairman.

Cranor relinquished the chair to Peterson, the new chairman, and Peterson asked for Staff to explain the last topic on the agenda, Open Discussion, Ordinance Content.

Staff explained that there are a number of areas in the Land Use Ordinance 2015-2 which he would like to review. A summary of these areas is:
Section 20.3.2. Correct 'five or fewer' to 'four or fewer'
Justification: Should this be changed to “creating four or less parcels”, so as not to conflict with Idaho Code 50-1301 and 50-1314 which defines a subdivision and requires platting of divisions of five or more parts?
Section 20.6. Administration: Primitive Parcel Division:
Correct typos,
20.5.3. - 20.6.3 –
Maybe it would help to search throughout the Ordinance for this type of error?
Include reference in 20.6.3. Considerations to requirements established herein, (now, 20.7.)
Change 20.7. to 20.6.5, since Final Record of Survey applies only to Section 20.6.
Renumber remainder of Section 20 to conform to # 3, previous
Update Section 20.10 (renumbered to 20.9., see previous) to include under 'Eligibility' the transfer to family member from the granting owner, who must retain at least the minimum parcel size for the zone (cannot grant acreage so as to leave the grantor out of compliance with minimum Net Residential Density).
Discussion of this topic included a suggestion that the recipient would have to retain the property (for example, 3 years) before selling it.
Variance Considerations
Davis suggested some changes to the considerations detailed in Section 12.3.4.
Existing Whether special circumstances of the property, such as its shape, size or features, render the parcel unsuited for uses that would otherwise be allowed in the zone district. Whether failure to grant variance would infringe on the rights of the property owner or would constitute a taking of private property rights. Whether granting the variance would confer special privilege to the property owner, or if it would be granted to any property owner in similar circumstances. Whether the grant of variance would be detrimental to the general public welfare, create a public hazard or be injurious to property or improvements in the immediate vicinity.
Proposed by Davis
Simplify these considerations
For example:
12.3.3. Planning and Zoning Commission: The planning and zoning commission will hold public hearing on applications for variance and based on THE materials in the application, the staff analysis and testimony presented during the public hearing process discussion WILL BE HELD to render reasoned findings to support a decision.
More questions are not a problem
Review the existing considerations by next meeting
Come prepared to share your proposed changes
Discussion points
Considerations should be posed such that a Yes/No answer would be consistent with granting approval of that which is being considered.
A string of considerations should yield a Yes/No answer, such that any No answer would mean to deny the application

Before closing the meeting Peterson asked whether we can have Counselor Hull available at the meetings and that it would be nice to get to meet and get to know him on a more personal level. Staff shared that Mr. Hull would like to be aware of meetings where his input is needed, but that for workshops and meetings with less contentious matters he would prefer to read the minutes. He apologized for not being available this evening.

Peterson thanked the Commissioners for their participation, and Self moved to adjourn, Fuller seconded, approved unanimously at 8:35PM.

John B. Moss

____________________________________ _________________
Kim Peterson, Chairman Date

Thursday, January 21, 2016 - 10:00
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