Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission
November 15, 2012
Attending: Matt Cossalman, John Cranor, Steve Shelman, Caleb Davis, Ron Self, John Moss; notified administrator they are unable to attend, Marciavee Cossette, Mike Weland. Absent, Bruce Behrman.
5:35 p.m. Call to order by Chairman Matt Cossalman.
First on the agenda was the reading and approval of the August minutes. Studer read the minutes with the exception of the transcript (100+ pages) of the Tungsten public hearing. Cossalman requested any changes or additions to the minutes – there were none. Steve Shelman motioned to accept the minutes, second by John Moss. No discussion Cossalman tallied the vote which was unanimous.
At 5:40 Cossalman opened the public hearing for 12-055 Kootenai Tribe of Idaho application for Conditional Use Permit at Twin Rivers site, 50 acres, for the construction of an aquaculture fish hatchery, and two manager residences, and a shop/storage building.
Cossalman read the script for the public hearing process, there were no questions on the process and no members asked to be excluded for conflict or ex-parte contacts.
Sue Ireland, Fish and Wildlife Director for the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho gave testimony on the application. Sue stressed the importance of Burbot (Ling Cod) and Sturgeon to the culture of the Kootenai Tribe. The tribe has invested heavily into an aquaculture program, and in 2007 purchased this property to expand on the program. By 2010 the master plan for this site had been developed and been scientifically reviewed. This site in particular is appropriate for aquaculture due to the two river water sources, and an established well. The 50 acre plus area accommodates all the ponds and structures necessary to this operation, and will allow for the continued RV and day use park already established on the site. Sue Ireland explained for safety the park will be closed for the year 2013, and reopened for public in 2014, although some construction may still be going on into 2014.
Cossalman asked the commission if they had questions of Ms. Ireland. Steve Shelman asked about the total acres owned and if it were tribal trust ownership. Ireland answered that the trust ownership is in the process with the BIA and was not established yet, and the total site area is just over 50 acres.
John Cranor asked about the closing and opening of the park, and would the RV area be covered by buildings? Ireland explained the layout of the RV area, day use area, and a tent area towards the back of the property.
Cossalman asked if the management will be entirely by the Kootenai tribe members, Ireland responded yes.
Cranor and Moss asked about the current road and expected use for construction equipment, employees ( 22 trips per day ), or emergency access. Ireland responded that the current road is improved and will have guard rails installed. It is still considered single lane with turnouts. The tribe owns the road up to where it connects with county road.
Cossalman asked how many employees expected? Ireland responded four to six.
Cossalman asked about other interested parties – Ireland explained the public input they received and meetings held with BPA, and other multi-agency input during the development process. Ireland explained that only one other area was seriously looked at other than this one – expanding the current hatchery, but space was limited and this site has better water source and more room.
Moss asked about flooding on that site. Ireland said that this spring was a good indicator that the engineers who had gone over the site identified the boat ramp and pond as the area of flooding, the rest remained not flooded. Ireland pointed out the lines on the site map the engineers developed showing elevation.
Cranor asked about electric services; Ireland explained the background the tribe had established using the current hatchery and the importance of backup generators for the fish hatchery operation; the tribe is well versed in generator operation.
Cossalman asked about the budget for this project, Ireland indicated it was approximately $15M.
Moss asked about security for the area, Ireland responded that no police will be needed but bio-security is very important due to the chance of disease to the fish.
In response to Cossalman, Ireland elaborated on the environmental regulations, agencies, and NEPA reports the tribe have accomplished in development of the project. Ron Self commented that the planning was top notch, and was impressed with the work done in planning. Moss added that the goal was good, and the location also. He is happy the tribe will reopen the park.
Cossalman commented that a fish hatchery is not specified in the ordinance as an allowable use of the land, and this may be a good test for commercial and aquaculture being classified as a silviculture/agricultural use on the land. Cranor added that he felt that it is not commercial because it is revenue neutral, except for the construction phase – the rest is non profit.
Cossalman reviewed land intensive and high occupancy used of land, and the group discussed residential density and what is allowed. Studer interjected that his call of the project as a commercial use is based on the establishment of employees, and not on whether the operation is for profit, or has sales. Studer felt that the use of the word commercial was not an issue with respect to the status of the aquaculture project. Studer concurred that aquaculture would be a silviculture/agriculture use of the land which is an unregulated use as far as supporting structures are concerned.
The commission directed Studer to record as a finding: Aquaculture is a subset of silvaculture/agriculture use of the land and as such is an unregulated use.
Cranor commented that three residences on the 50 acre site does not present a problem.
Davis had no further comments.
Shelman added that he likes to see the tribe go through this public process, and he supports the proposed use of the land.
Cranor expressed concern that the tribe has gone to a great deal of work to get this far in the process, we need to ensure we don't miss some issues.
There was discussion regarding any issue with the letter submitted by Sara Cumpton, against the location of the hatchery. Self felt the letter may be ignored because of Cumpton being from Washington State, not in this area. Cossalman said the letter was okay, and that the issue was the location which Ireland had addressed – best water source and space – and that the RV and park would only be closed for one year, with provision to reopen in 2014.
Cranor brought up the issue of septic in low lying areas, recognizing that engineers had been over the area. Cossalman felt that the issue was with Panhandle Health District to assure proper engineering of septic on the site.
There was no further discussion, Cossalman called for the motion. Self made motion to approve the condional use permit without condition. Moss second the motion; there was no further discussion of the motion. Cossalman called for the vote, which passed unanimously.
Dan Studer, recorder.
Record of Findings and Decision for Application 12-055 Conditional Use Permit
The Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission held public hearing at 5:40 on November 11, 2012 in the court room of the County Court House. The hearing was to review the record and hear public testimony regarding application for Conditional Use Permit by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho for an aquaculture program providing for the re-establishment of sturgeon and burbot in the Kootenai River. Specifically, the Kootenai Tribe wished to establish on their Twin Rivers property, 50.3 acres, a fish hatchery building, 32,574 square feet, two residences for manager and employees, and a garage and storage building.
The use proposed is in a rural residential zone, at the confluence of the Moyie River and Kootenai River. After review of the record, written and public testimony, the Planning and Zoning Commission hereby find the following:
That plans and drawings submitted by the applicant clearly demonstrate the full scope of the land use proposed; and
Following deliberation the Commission finds that aquaculture is a suitable use for this property and falls in the category of silvicultural and agricultural use, which is an unregulated use in Boundary County, and therefore a use by right; and
The RV park and campsite use, a use of record on this site, will be accommodated and continue after construction, despite the establishment of the hatchery building, two residences, and support buildings; and
The Commission concur the conditional use of the land is compatible with past use, and may enhance the county by the benefits of reestablishing fish species historically important to the area; and
The testimony from the tribes Director of Fish and Wildlife as to the planning, engineering design, road improvements, and consultation with Federal and State agencies did alleviate any concern with wetland, flood zone, septic, and public safety associated with the conditional use; and
Concerns by the public are valid concerns and were adequately addressed by the tribes plan, which reopens the established historical use of a park on the site, and testimony as to the selection of this area for the hatchery due to the multiple water sources and ability of the land, due to its size, to accommodate the proposed use.
Given the above considerations the Planning and Zoning Commission did hereby motion and vote to approve the conditional use permit application by the Kootenai Tribe of Idaho 12-055 with no conditions attached.