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Planning issues dominate at commissioners’ meeting

by EMILY BONSANT
Hagadone News Network | May 12, 2022 1:00 AM

BONNERS FERRY — Boundary County commissioners addressed residence complaints before the county’s Planning and Zoning department and other issues at a recent press conference.

Commissioner Dan Dinning said that in 2020 the county saw a significant increase in P&Z needs to the point that commissioners didn't think one person could do all the work processing the applications.

In January 2020, Reun Yeager, a Sandpoint-based engineering consulting firm, was hired to assist as the previous employee was retiring in September 2020. Reun Yeager had approximately 130 applications to process when they first came on board in September 2020.

Also about that time, the Road and Bridge department lost its addressing person, county officials said. As a result, those duties also were given to the firm to handle.

Dinning said that these two positions are so tied together that when these positions were vacant, it made it “extremely difficult to get anything done.”

He said that the commissioners have found that due to staffing shortages, using a firm as opposed to an individual has been better for the county. He said that an individual can always find a better paying job and that leaves the county in a bind.

He said until the economy balances out, and the county can be competitive with wages, they will keep using Reun Yeager.

The commissioners agreed that the firm is processing the ever-increasing applications and requests by P&Z.

Commissioner Tim Bertling said despite concerns to the contrary Reun Yeager is following Boundary County ordinances.

“[The firm] have to follow our comprehensive zoning map, they are following our ordinances,” he said.

Dinning said that P&Z applications have risen since 2020. In 2020, there were approximately 224 applications, in 2021, 238. As of April 19, this year, there have been 116 applications.

“When you look at the scale, of over 200 applications a year, one person cannot do it,” Dinning said.

The commissioners agreed that the firm has been very professional when running public hearings. Reun Yeager phone system has not been working sometimes and they are trying to come up with a solution. The officer is at the County Extension office two full days a week, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., unless there is a P&Z meeting. If a meeting is held, the office closes at 4:30 p.m.

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