Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission
February 20, 2014 regular meeting.
Attending: Matt Cossalman, Chairman, John Cranor, Ron Self, Marciavee Cossette, Caleb Davis, John Moss, Steve Shelman, Bruce Behrman. Staff, Dan Studer.
At 5:30 pm Matt Cossalman, Chairman, opened the regular meeting and read through the agenda, and introduced the members of the commission.
The first agenda item was approval of the January minutes. Since Studer had sent out the minutes to the members last week, Caleb Davis motion to accept the minutes, second by Self. The motion passed with 1 abstention (Shelman).
At 5:40 Cossalman read the script for the next public hearing, 14-002 Romero Conditional Use Permit for motor sport/entertainment events, three per year, allowing overnight camping and after event beer garden. The events include a rock crawl and mud bog.
Romero gave his opening remarks saying he recognizes the event creates noise, however, it only last a short time and stops. The farming and logging operations that regularly occur in Highland Flats also cause noise, dust, and disturbance. There are unrestricted uses, such as snowmobiles and motorcycles, in the area also. Romero took questions from the commission members.
Cossalman stated that noise as defined in ID code will be controlled and will not exceed the noise like a lawn mower at the property line. Cossalman asked if all cars had mufflers. Romero indicated all cars did have mufflers, but the mufflers differ in degree of noise abatement. Davis asked if Romero inspected the mufflers prior to running. Romero indicated that he did look at the vehicles before they took part in the events. Moss mentioned that the camping and beer garden make the event seem like a three day gala. Self asked about protection of the creek; Romero said he had caution tape around that area to warn people away. Cranor asked about attendee's parking; Romero explained that there are two entrances for ingress and egress. Cossette asked about finances; Romero said he gives 15 % to the high school, and has a discount ticket for vets. Self asked about after hour noise; Romero said his security team polices that. Davis asked about the beer garden and this being a family event; Romero said it is just like people going down to the Kootenai River Inn with kids and enjoy a beer. Romero said his security people can handle and are well equipped police the area. Cranor asked about the number of people attending; Romero said he could not predict what his attendance will be. Shelman asked about restrictions put on last years event by commissioners; Romero read the list and indicated the time limit was too restrictive.
Cossalman asked for people in favor of the conditional use permit to come forward. Those providing testimony in favor were: Janet Preston, Naples; Jeff Avery, Moyie Springs; Jeff Lewis, Naples; Jasper Nauman Bonners Ferry; Bruce Behrman, Moyie Springs; Doug Flory Bonners Ferry; Josh Figgins, Bonners Ferry; Tia Avery Moyie Springs.
Most of those in favor of the event felt the noise was not a major issue, even those living across the street and within 300 to 400 feet of DelRey's property. The event is a family event attended by children to grandparents interested in seeing people who build up there vehicles and take great pride in them. There are mud bog events all across the country and this one is the most skillfully produced and well thought out, organized events. People attending love it and those participating spend a lot of money on it. Safety is assured because no one wants to get hurt or hurt anybody. Romero's heavy security sets a tone, and no one wants to be asked to leave because they are there to have fun. Some in favor expressed that Romero's have a right to use their land, and make money so they can save it.
John Savage was the only person to speak neutral about the conditional use permit. Savage felt a person has a right to use their property but this is a bad business decision, and has lost money. Security was very good and it is well organized, however, as it grows safety and traffic concerns will rise.
Cossalman asked for those opposed to the conditional use permit. Those providing testimony in opposition to the permit were: Clarence Jones, Naples; James Wilger, Naples; Linda McFadden, Naples; Terry Wallace, Naples; Heidi Brown, Naples; Jeff Gutshall, Naples; Emma Lee Peterson, Naples; Don Jordan, Naples.
Those opposed felt that noise was a definite issue, similar to a jake brake going off in their back yard. Now they would loose three weekends in the summer for Romero's commercial profit. These people expressed their value of quiet peaceful rural living in Highland Flats. Last years event was small and not an indicator of what will happen in the future. And with alcohol and larger numbers of people safety of the event and traffic on the road will be major problems. Had people known that this was to occur they would not have moved to this area; and now land values will drop and won't be able to sell property. Concern was raised that this permit lasts and carries with the land, over to the next person Romero's sell to. They felt this needs to be stopped now because it will be too big; and Romero's, in order to make a profit, will have to make it very big.
Romero gave his rebuttal to those opposed. Romero stated that this is a simple recreational use. Safety is a big concern and he has mitigated that with heavy security. The noise is similar to what you hear from an ag tractor out bailing. He has insurance for the event, and ran a water truck repeatedly for dust abatement. A petition against the event last year had false statements in it. The permit is only for nine days, and the money he makes or doesn't is his own business.
Cossalman closed the public testimony and began discussion. Self felt concern over the permit being permanent. Cranor said there has to be restrictions applied. Moss was concerned that the landowners and participating people are very opposed. One event now to three per year and allowing it to grow. Moss did not feel he has the insight to predict the effect of future growth of the event.
Cossalman asked the group if they could put limits on the event – and realize that Romero may not be the person putting on the event in the future? Self said it would be nice to let Romero keep trying it, but then at what point and how to stop it later?
Cossalman brought up the Special Event Permit which could be recurring, but stop because of changes in conditions. The group read through the ordinance and came to agreement that the commissioners may review a recurring special event annually.
Davis made motion to deny the application for conditional use permit; second by Moss. Cossalman asked the members if terms and conditions could be adequate, and public concerns brought up be adequately addressed; also, could this unfairly burden taxpayers in the future? The members were very skeptical of the future and noise and traffic issues. Shelman said the way the area is zoned now it should be okay in Ag/Forestry, but there are just too many houses here. All agreed that the area is miss zoned and in the future should be zoned rural residential.
Shelman felt the future concerns cannot be adequately addressed, and would like to see the event evaluated annually. Moss felt the hours were okay, but with the increased hours and beer garden and camping, it is impossible to compare with last years event people gave testimony about. The special event allows for more review, annually.
Ending discussion, Cossalman asked for the vote; the vote was unanimous to deny the application.
The next agenda item was Beauty Bay Holdings, LLC variance, 13-062. Cossalman outlined the procedure; no one representing the application was present. Studer gave a brief staff report covering the history of the application, ordinance provisions and comprehensive plan zoning. There was no public testimony. Discussion was quick to recognize the break in the property by highway 95. Moss made motion to approve the variance, second by Self. There was no discussion; the vote was unanimous to approve.
The meeting was adjourned.