Yesterday, the CDA Press reported that the Kootenai County Commissioners were “scrapping a proposal to expand shoreline protection requirements” in the re-writing of the zoning and development codes. And, in one sense, it is true that the Commissioners and the consultant and the Advisory Committee panel have gone back to the drawing board. But rather than this being some political victory for property rights, or a political stunt by one candidate or another as the CDA Press article implies, this is rooted in an effort to find compromise on probably the single most difficult issue facing the county’s zoning code re-write. There’s still a lot of work to do.
The current, simple-minded, 25-foot setback, as applied now in the County, doesn’t protect the environment, doesn’t work for existing property owners, and doesn’t work for county staff that administer the law. Everyone agrees on that much. The question is simply how to restructure shoreline protections to be more flexible for property owners while still protecting water quality.
Buffers and/or “best management practices” are required in jurisdictions around the country to protect lakes and streams from polluted runoff. In our region, with water quality so incredibly important to our economy and quality of life, doing nothing is not an option.