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County receives chorus of criticism

by Collin Coles
| April 9, 2010 9:00 PM

On Monday, the Board of County Commissioners held a builder and developer forum. This was a welcomed event. The North Idaho Building Contractors and other groups have been asking for this type of meeting for some time.

There were perhaps 100 people present and many spoke up. If a letter grade were to be given to the county based on the comments delivered by their customers, it would be a D.

To be fair, there were a few positive comments given, though the bulk of the comments pointed out shortcomings. The comments were made courteously and with hope that things would get better.

The intent of the gathering was for builders, developers and citizens to offer comments regarding services and experiences at the Planning and Building Department so the commissioners and staff could address issues.

A brief synopsis of the comments expressed is as follows:

• There are too many administrative policies, yet none are in writing.

• "It shouldn't be harder to get a permit than to build a house."

• There is a high degree of dissatisfaction. The department seems to look for obstacles.

• The department needs to return phone calls and show up at meetings.

• There is a lack of customer service and too many interpretations that cost time and money.

• "Kootenai County used to be an easy place to do business; we have lost that."

• The systems are dysfunctional; hearings are dysfunctional, and there are too many interpretations of antiquated regulations.

• The commissioners need professional reports from staff but are not getting it.

• The department is hard to work with and answers are difficult to rely upon. "Let's not make something happen."

• The department and staff need to be empowered to make decisions.

• The county is one of the hardest places to get a permit.

• There are too many appeals of administrative decisions.

• Ordinances and regulations need to be updated.

No service business could survive if it were to continue to operate like this. Unfortunately we, citizens of the county, can't take our business somewhere else. It is apparent that there is a need for change but that has been apparent for some time. Most of these issues, and others, have been raised over the past few years with the staff and the commissioners. There is nothing new in what was said at the forum.

I applaud the commissioners and staff for holding the forum and listening, but the proof will be in the changes that we can see in the near future. The ball is in their court.

Collin Coles is a Post Falls resident.

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