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Comp plan revisions finally done

by Alecia Warren
| December 24, 2010 8:00 PM

After several years, it's done.

The Kootenai County commissioners wrapped up deliberations on all chapters of the updated Comprehensive Plan this week, completing the process that began with the Keziah Watkins report in 2006.

"It feels good," Commissioner Todd Tondee said on Thursday.

The officials' most recent review of the document primarily involved reorganization and wordsmithing, said Commissioner Rick Currie, which he said was crucial for condensing the massive visionary document.

"It's saying the same thing, but with a lot less words," said Currie, whose term ends the first week of January.

He added that the commissioners had earlier voted on significant changes to the plan, submitted by the county Planning and Zoning Commission last January, including the removal of acreage designations the commissioners felt would be better specified in zoning ordinances.

Tondee said he expects the document, which acts as a roadmap for future development in the county, to offer clear direction on shaping the area.

The focus of the plan is for denser development to occur within cities, he said.

"We anticipate development happening in rural areas, but not dense development," Tondee said.

Terry Harris, executive director of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance, said he thinks the new document is a great improvement over the current Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 1994.

"I think it's a much more comprehensive of a plan. There's a lot more detail in it than before, and they cover a great deal more territory," Harris said.

Still, he said, he is frustrated the commissioners removed acreage designations from the plan, which he thinks will complicate the plan's implementation.

"Without the densities in it, it's not as helpful as it should be," Harris said.

The commissioners will review the final changes they made next week, and vote officially on the document at 10 a.m. next Thursday in the county Administration Building.

The next step is implementing the plan, Tondee said, by creating new ordinances and regulations to enforce the plan's vision.

The county announced in May, 2009 that it was setting aside $350,000 for a consulting firm to help with that process.

Tondee said he expects that work to start first thing next year.

"We still need to decide on who that consultant will be," he said.

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