Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission
October 16, 2014 Regular Meeting
Attending: Matt Cossalman, John Cranor, Ron Self, Caleb Davis, Kim Peterson, Scott Fuller, Marciavee Cossette; staff, John Moss.
At 5:30 pm Cossalman, opened the regular meeting and read through the agenda. A visitor who introduced himself as Tim Heenan was welcomed to the meeting, and Cossalman introduced the members of the commission.
Cossalman read the Agenda and added an item between the 1st and 2nd topics on the Agenda; introductory remarks by John Moss, the new administrator.
The first agenda item was review and approval of minutes of the June 19, 2014. There were no additions or changes to the minutes. A motion by Self to approve the minutes was seconded by Davis; the motion passed unanimously.
Cossalman welcomed Moss and suggested that there were things being looked at that might require a review by the P&Z Commission. He invited Moss to make remarks regarding current activity.
Moss began by saying that while he had observed Mike Weland and Dan Studer in their role as administrator, he has a whole new respect for the amount of responsibility they bore, and that as a secretary he was there to take notes and answer questions. He said that although his duty was to create Staff Reports regarding items of variance, he knew as much as the P&Z Commissioners regarding the material thus presented and is dependent upon the P&Z Commission for a resolution.
Moss stated that he had talked to an individual who had concerns he wanted to have the P&Z Commission address, and since this was submitted in writing at the last minute the request was not on the Agenda and Moss suggested that if time permitted, Cossalman could request this input at some time during the meeting.
Moss suggested that it might be appropriate to have a default item on the Agenda asking for public comment, given a regular meeting during which no public hearing and/or comment was solicited. Cossalman responded by saying that typically the Chair has the right to modify the Agenda and certainly the administrator can do that also. (There is no need to formally add such an item to the Agenda.)
Moss apologized for not placing the Agenda for the meeting on the P&Z web site, as well as not updating the Public Hearing Notice, also a web site link. He suggested that this would be taken care of for the future.
Moss said there were some items in the pipeline that would be on the Agenda for next month. Cossalman stated that this information should be presented in a regular format, since the subject is not scheduled for this evening's Agenda and it would be inappropriate to discuss details without having a complete understanding of situation. Self suggested that it would be best to not mention specifics, since this would enable doing individual research on a matter outside of Commission control which would not be good.
Moss went on to say that when approached by someone for a questionable item, it isn't always clear that the request is a variance or simply something the ordinance denies. Cossalman said that it is up to the administrator to take his best shot, and bring questionable items to the Commission for their determination. Self agreed, saying that it is best if it is not mentioned outside of the regular meeting set up to review the subject in question, saying that if there is any doubt, there is 'us' (meaning the P&Z Commission).
Cossalman suggested that it might be possible to discuss something without giving specifics: “Person came in and asked about something they want to do”, without giving names or specific locations, so the subject can be discussed without knowing any of the specifics.
Moss agreed that this was possible, and that he is aware of the danger of giving too much specifics prior to a formal hearing on a subject.
Moss discussed the distribution of material mailed to the P&Z Commission in advance of the meeting. Moss had requested that Sections 11 and 12 be returned to him, and then gave to everyone a new set of documents, comprising Section 11, Section 20, and a proposed revision to Section 2.
Moss explained that Dan Studer had originally proposed the Amendment changes for Parcel Division replace Section 11, and that Section 11 (Subdivisions) be made Section 12. In discussing this with Studer earlier in the day, it was recommended that Section 11 remain Subdivisions, and that Section 20 (Parcel Division) be created. This preserves the numbering in effect, making a change of this scope less cumbersome if existing Section numbers can be retained. Because of the change in format (NOT in substance), the updated documentation was distributed and served as the basis for the night's review.
Moss also stated that he had inserted a proposed revision to the definition given in Section 2.1, Accessory Dwelling Unit. There were two proposed changes: 1, remove the word 'non-addressable' before 'detached structure', reading the new phrase as 'Not more than one detached structure'; 2) consider the size of the current minimum square feet of floor space, from '950' to ???
Concerning the 1st change, Moss stated that Gary Falcon (who assigns house numbers to addresses) expressed concern that ANY dwelling unit should be addressable. His concern relates to EMT access and being able to locate a dwelling without guesswork. This relates to changes mandated by 911, as Self pointed out.
Cossalman asked about crossing out the 950 value for the size of the Accessory Unit. Moss replied that he hadn't crossed it out in fact, but was suggesting that another value may be more appropriate. A recent request highlighted the need to review this size, and in doing independent research on the size of motor homes, mobile homes, manufactured housing and independent contractor's floor plans, Moss found that an average size of 1100 square feet would be closer to average for a 1 to 2 bedroom home, using Google and comparing over 40 floor plans in this basic research. Moss stated that he didn't know if 950 was good or bad, but perhaps this value would be something to review.
Cossalman said that he thought '950' was appropriate if thinking in terms of '999', or 'less than 1000. Moss said that in looking at what someone would place on their property today, selecting what is currently available, they might find it difficult to work with a limitation of 950 square feet.
Cossalman asked if the P&Z Commission wanted to consider the change to Section 2; he pointed out that there are several areas to be reviewed, and if changes are made they should be done as part of the same process; not that changes to Section 2 were not warranted, but that if changes are being made, and changes to Section 2 were desirable, they should all be done at once. Self said that he was concerned about the size, and also wondered about the origin of the CAFO request.
Cossalman said it was important o recognize whose name was going to be placed as author of this request, He said that regardless of who originated the review, ultimately it was the Planning & Zoning Commission who would be placing this change before the County Commissioners.
Moss pointed out that he had distributed the document 'Title 67—State Government and State Affairs – Chapter 65 – Local Land Use Planning – 67-6529' to serve as background information concerning this ordinance. He apologized for not having included it in the original mailing, and that in revising the material that day for the night's meeting realized that the document might prove helpful.
Moss also added that since Dan Studer had reviewed the CAFO material, and because he struggled with some simple requests for parcel division, he saw the need to modify the ordinance for CAFO as an opportune time to simplify the parcel division – hence the creation of Section 20 – hence the opportunity to update the definition for Accessible Dwelling Unit.
Cossalman read through the next agenda item script – Review the CAFO Amendment – and again stated that it is the prerogative of the P&Z Commission to take on the review and recommend any changes, notwithstanding any effort put forth by prior administrators.
Peterson said she was confused. “Where is this coming from?” She said she went Online, reviewing Section 67-6529 – and questions where we have these people putting thousands of animals on their property, and if there is a problem with that, or is it that the Commissioners are being pressured by the State and the Commissioners are coming to P&Z requesting P&Z do something?
Moss stated that he was told by Studer that someone had asked a question concerning a chicken ranch. Studer felt that this situation was not addressed in the ordinance, and that perhaps someone had come to the Commissioners seeking direction. This was not clear to Moss at all, in terms of who, what, why, when, where, or how. At the same time, according to 67-6529C (c), who's going to count 1,000 veal calves or 82,000 chickens? Moss pointed out the verbiage in 67-6529 (paragraph 2) which states '...the definition of a confined animal feeding operation shall not be less restrictive than the definition contained in section 67-6529C...' and so it seems that the P&Z Commission is able to define whatever MORE restrictive terms it may see the need for.
Fuller suggested that he had worked at Oregon State where he ran the Oregon State Chicken and Research Center. As he recalls, their 'boiler facility' was a barn about 80*400 feet, containing about 80,000 birds. He remembered that each chicken is supposed to have 1 square foot of space (required by WSDA), so if the 80*400 dimensions of the barn provide for 32,000 birds, that's what it is.
Peterson said that this is being brought to us by the State of Idaho, but why? Who is driving this request? Moss responded by saying that someone had asked Studer if he can create a chicken ranch. That's the extent of knowledge and documentation regarding the origination of the request.
Peterson said that her (less than intense research) suggests that at the moment if someone wanted to do something CAFO-related they would have to go to the Commissioners who would then go and look at the code – I'm confused at the process to be followed. “Is there nothing in place that would guide the Commissioners in what to do for a request like this? Is there nothing in place so that's why you have to do this now?” She continued to say that the problems of noise, of smell, of waste, are perhaps what is intended to be dealt with here, but how and by whom is a mystery.
Fuller said that we don't have enough land around here to support a feeding operation for thousands of cattle and etcetera. “I have 14 cows on 160 acres and they graze it all down.”
Peterson asked “So if someone came to the Commissioners and asked to implement a CAFO operation, at this point what would happen? Couldn't this be decided on an individual basis?”
Cossalman replied that on Agricultural property the property owner has inherent rights to farm. Peterson said that if someone wanted to place a chicken ranch in Boundary County, maybe this is the time to address this question?
Self said that when you drive down a county road, there are chicken ranches everywhere. They are not confined, so maybe they aren't part of a commercial operation, but they're everywhere.
Cossalman asked what other counties have done, and whether this can be reviewed? He suggested that the text Studer created is rather vague and doesn't address a number of issues. There seems to be no criteria for weighing issues on a case by case basis.
Cossalman returned to the original question: Do we want to take this on, change the ordinance with Amendments such as this?
Self responded by saying he totally agrees with making it easier to split property up (Section 20). He said he doesn't really know how far this takes us, insofar as splitting up property is concerned. Just how small can they go? We haven't had a problem with that – yet, but...
Fuller said that this is a LOT of animals! His experience with the Oregon State Research Center was limited, in that they only had 3,000 sheep, but they were on 1,500 acres and it took a lot to maintain them. 10,000 pigs? That's a LOT of pigs? Where you going to put them? 1,000 cows? Same questions?
Fuller continued: On the basis of a square foot per chicken, figure out what would be required before this CAFO limit is reached. 82,000 square feet is a BIG area. Peterson said “And the smell!”
John Cranor asked if the P&Z wanted to take on these considerations all together, or just 1 or 2 of them? Cossalman replied that first is the need to decide that a change should be made, and then combine the changes into one process so that everything mandated for change is all handled in one process.
Caleb Davis questioned whether there is a real need to make this change at this time, and if so what does the P&Z Commission need to consider to make things better.”I don't even know what questions to ask.”
Peterson asked what prevents someone from just doing what they want right now? Cossalman replied that they must ask the Commissioners for permission to proceed. Peterson said “That's with 82,000 chickens, right? But with 80,000 chickens they can just move right in?” Cossalman: “Right.” Peterson: “I hope someone wouldn't just move in next door with 80,000 chickens.” Fuller: “I'm not against chicken ranches, and someone who has one has every right to make a profit. But where are they going to put it?”
Cossalman asked “So do you want P&Z to weigh in on some large operation or do you want to leave it as a use by right as it is now?” Peterson: “It should be something involving the community. It shouldn't be that somebody would just come in with 80,000 chickens and that's it.”
Self: “We had a hearing about a year ago involving a dog kennel, grooming, noise potential was one thing we discussed. So noise and neighbor impact was addressed.”
Peterson: “Neighbors are also possibly impacted by other issues, such as waste by-products.”
Cossalman: “There are regulations already in existence that deal with most of these issues.”
Peterson: Maybe we should look at what other counties have done concerning this?
(A lot of discussion followed at this point relative to the proposed amendment (6.6) and how it was to be administered. The considerations, the Terms and Conditions, the question as to how to know when to apply this set of questions (at 80,000 chickens versus 82,000 chickens). Conversation swirled without coming to a consensus on how to apply the contents of 6.6 in real life. What zone or zones are involved/exempt? How to quantify the number of animals/birds in the operation?)
Fuller:” I would like to know what other counties have done, set reasonable setbacks for our county, establish Boundary County guidelines.”
Cranor: “I think there is a mandate from the State to create an ordinance on CAFO.” Davis: “Can't we see what other counties have done?” Cossalman: “CAFO is on the table pending more information.”
Cossalman: “In working with Dan Studer on parcel subdivision, the process is too complex for what needed to be done. He created the Section 20, Parcel Division, and as I read through it I think we have the duty to ensure that we don't create a loop-hole, that every parcel division or every division of land becomes a parcel division and not a subdivision. A subdivision provides a road and utilities oversight and a parcel division is only monitored by the administrator.
Self: 'I agree, there is always the temptation to find loop-holes.”
Cossalman: “The whole reason the Comp Plan got rewritten was because a bunch of new subdivisions popped up. I'm not saying that Dan (Studer)'s inputs weren't right, but we have to think carefully as to how it will be used and what the results might be.”
Peterson: “What are the differences between the revision and the original Section 11?”
Cossalman: “One main differences is that the proposed Parcel Division only applies to unplotted/unplatted parcels, so it doesn't require a survey. That reduces the cost a whole lot. Another is that it reduces the approval to an administrative decision, not requiring a public hearing. There isn't a limit to the size of land you can do this to, and I think that's an oversight.”
Self: “I think what Dan Studer is talking about is an aliquot legal description. Taking a 10 and splitting it in half, 2 fives.”
(A lot of discussion involving the cost of a survey, in viewing the subdivision limit to parcel size, not addressed in the Parcel Division, concern about what zones might be involved, the passing of approval authority from the P&Z Commission to the administrator (no community input in a public hearing),)
Fuller: “What is on the table right now? Are we deciding to make changes to this or accept it?”
Cossalman: “Sure, do you see changes that need to be considered?”
Fuller: “I'm not saying that we should accept it as-is, but it is worth looking in to.”
Cossalman: “I think it is real helpful to have real discussions to view these changes relative to the plan; how and why we do it is important.”
Peterson: “I think we should look into this, do some real research, and move on.”
Cranor: “I think we have a time-line where we can look this over carefully, have discussions, and make a meaningful decision after we have had a more thorough review.”
(General discussion, in which Moss commented that there is no rush to make changes, 2015 is a reasonable target time to think about. Cossalman referred to the changes made to the Comp Plan and the amount of work that went in to make those changes. Self agreed that being careful is a good thing, and Cossalman reaffirmed that it will be the P&Z Commission whose name would be author of the amendment.)
Cossalman: “The Division/Subdivision question boils down to whether we can make changes without opening a loophole in the ordinance.”
Self: “Don't we already provide for straight splits under 40, 10 acres?”
Cossalman: “Twenty acres, so you can make 20 acre development splits.”
Self: “So we don't have anything under that?”
Cossalman: “Correct, so Dan (Studer)'s intention is to provide a way to make that easier.”
Davis: “But isn't the criteria one that involves county road access? To do a subdivision simple split, doesn't that require county road access?”
Self: “OK, so why not expand that to include private road access?”
Cossalman: “That's the intent, so we can get easements to a county road.”
Cranor: “I think we can make this work, but we need to understand the nature of the split regarding property size.”
Self: “Right, how small do you want this to go?”
Cossalman: “Is there any more discussion?”
Self: “Then there's the city impact area, are we outside of that?”
Cossalman: “There's the zone to consider, are we Prime Ag, or what zone are we in?”
(More discussion involving zone, size, easement/access to county road, platting considerations.)
Self: “I think we should hold work shops.”
Peterson: “I would like the opportunity to research this question.”
Fuller: “So would I!”
Cossalman: “OK, we need more discussion time. What does the upcoming schedule contain?”
Moss: “There are a couple of variance items to consider at this point.”
Cossalman: “Those probably won't take long?” Moss: “Not long.” Cossalman: “So we can plan to spend more time on this topic at the next meeting. Let's move on. The next item on the agenda refers to position openings on the P&Z Commission.”
(After welcoming the visitor, Tim Heenan introduced himself and said he was a candidate for the position. He provided a verbal resume of his qualifications, describing his background and suggesting he was familiar with the Boundary County web site, had read parts of the ordinance and the Comp Plan, and was familiar with the P&Z Commission role.
The Commission members asked the questions which are asked of all candidates: Self: “What do you see that Boundary County needs”; Reply: “We see from the business statement that we need to preserve our balance, and the need is to provide development of land and services without upsetting that balance. If in a disagreement both sides go away a little upset, we probably have achieved our goal and have a balance. You try to do the right thing in accord with people's property rights.”; Self: “What is your background?”, Reply: “In business, I was a Labor Relations negotiator, and then went into mediation, subsequently into arbitration, and so it is a guarantee, as I said earlier, that if I'm doing my job then when both sides leave here both sides are a little out of sorts and I have achieved the goal of balancing both parties needs.”; Cranor: “Currently, Boundary County does not requires a building permit. Do you think this is a good thing or a bad thing?”, Reply: “Well, I'm in the process of building a cabin. So I can relate to that on a personal level. I got a plumbing permit and an electrical permit, primarily because of my lack of knowledge in both areas. I was able to get the services I need. I think this is a unique position. Under the permit, for example, the plumber not only inspects the water but they inspect the gas. If someone builds something that is going to fall over, that is a case of personal responsibility. I tend to overdo everything, that's what I do, other people maybe want to do things a little more economically, but if you're doing the right thing you want to protect yourself, your family, your investment. At this point in time I am in full agreement with Boundary County's building permit status.”; further questions relate to Mr. Heenan's job experience as negotiator, mediator, arbitrator. His responses elaborated on what he had already said.; Cossalman: Have you read the Comp Plan and the Ordinance, available on the County Web site, Planning & Zoning?”, Reply: “Not entirely, though I did read through some of both.”; Cossalman: “Our role as judges, essentially, is to know this code and apply it on different permits we're being asked to decide on.”, Reply: “I have brought it up, cruised through it, I know what's there.” The Commission thanked him, and Mr Heenan left the meeting.)
Discussion involving other candidates, their availability and interest. Focusing back on Tim Heenan and his candidacy, the Commission felt they should vote on his being invited to be on the P&Z Commission. Peterson voted to have Tim Heenan on the Commission, Self seconded and the motion carried unanimously. Moss will send the County Commissioners this recommendation.
Moss introduced a letter to the P&Z Commission sent by Kenneth baker, Chief, Boundary Volunteer Ambulance.
October 16, 2014
Planning and Zoning Committee
At this time we would like to ask that some requirements be put into place for all any Public Event taking concessions. We feel that Boundary Ambulance and other emergency services should be notified at least 2 week in advance of these events.
It would help us with our scheduling, should any problems arise from these events if we were notified that a Public Event was being held.
Ken Baker Chief
Boundary Volunteer Ambulance
Background: Chief Baker has come into the administrator's office a couple of times, complaining that the ambulance service was called out to an event that they had no knowledge was taking place. He stated that although there were supposedly EMT personnel at the event, these personnel appeared to be untrained or inexperienced in handling emergencies, such that when the Boundary Volunteer Ambulance was called the arrival time was delayed due to their being unaware of the event. He said that in these occurrences, being forewarned wold mean having adequate trained personnel on standby to provide immediate response. He suggested that if we are aware of an event, P&Z might stipulate that EMT and other emergency responders be notified at least 2 weeks prior to the even.
Self: “We don't see these events. Even for the Moyie Mud Bog, we don't see anyone prior to these events.”
Moss: “In reviewing permit requests, I saw specifically a request that the Moyie Mud Bog be granted the right to reoccur. However, there was no caveat nor description of what that meant; annual? Semi-annual? Monthly?”
Fuller: “There is a similar event taking place out by the Elk Farm. I thought it was a motorcycle race, but no, its like a $30 entry fee, and I'm like, no way, I'm not into this.”
Davis: “I've heard people talking about this, and so I'm thinking it's a done deal. Did we approve it?”
(Discussion about how this came about, where it s happening, how the ground was prepared in advance and how this appears to be a sanctioned event. Maybe this is the last one of the season, how do we get their attention (meaning, reapply if they didn't apply to begin with.))
Self: “I think the Chief brings up some very good points, but I don't see how P&Z can do anything about it, or enforce it.”
Davis: “If one of these comes before us for consideration we could make that stipulation.”
Fuller: “I think we want to be acceptable of our neighbors, but a lot of people won't feel that way. It's like the chicken ranch; if we don't lay some things down it might be up against some guy's house... I like being able to do what I want but there are neighbors to consider.”
Peterson: “The difference between the Mud Bogs and the chickens is that nobody has gone to the Commissioners about the Mud Bogs to complain about it so the neighbors must think it's cool.”
Self: “I think we just heard from the Chief, about safety.”
Moss: “If somebody wanted to hold another event, would they have to come to the P&Z Commission and ask for permission? And if so, couldn't there be a stipulation for this type of event that EMT services be notified in advance?”
Cossalman: “The event would have to be attended by 500 or more people in order to come before the Commission.”
Peterson: “In having an event on someone's property, it is up to them to decide what they need. I don't think it is appropriate for P&Z to make law that applies to fire department or EMT services.”
Moss: “If someone wanted to have a rodeo on their property (for example), would they have to come to the P&Z Commission for a permit?”
Self: “It would depend upon the attendance.” Cossalman agrees.
Moss: “But how am I going to know just how many people will attend? I haven't had a rodeo before.”
Self: “That would be a Special Use Permit.”
Cossalman: “Yes, you would call in and request a permit to hold the rodeo.”
Moss: “But why would I call in? If you tell me 'No', then I couldn't do it. If I don't call in, then you can't tell me 'No'.”
Cossalman: “We can't make an ordinance change but we can let an applicant know of this concern.”
Peterson: “I think we all want to do the right thing and we can tell the applicant they have to notify EMT when they apply for a permit for an event.”
Cossalman: “We are aware of this concern and when an applicant comes before us we can make an individual stipulation that EMS be told about the event, but this is only good if they come before us with the request. Please tell Mr. Baker that the P&Z Commission is aware that an event like this can impose security and safety risks, and that we can mention this to an applicant with the instruction that appropriate departments must be notified at least 2 weeks prior to an event.”
(What followed was a generic discussion of the likelihood of a problem if someone is at an event or at a public gathering of their own accord. Accidents happen, and who's to say that the event was the cause rather than circumstances. Specific events (Mud Bog) were discussed as being grandfathered in, without the need for a permit. Moss said that as far as grandfathering is concerned, if something is wrong, past history doesn't make a recurrence right. Overall, the consensus was that a Special Event permit would be required for commercial events involving more than 500 people.)
Moss: “I will take your response to Ken Baker, and I'm sure he will be gratified to have your consideration for future permit requests.”
(Talk then turned to potential candidates for the remaining open positions. Previous candidates were discussed and Peterson mentioned that she has a couple of people in mind who she thinks are interested and who would be a good addition to the current members. It was agreed to wait until the next meeting to review additional candidates and make a decision then.)
There was no more discussion. Matt Cossalman asked for a motion to adjourn, made by Marciavee Cosette, second by Scott Fuller; no discussion, motion passed unanimously.
John B. Moss
Matt Cossalman, Chairman Date