A private airstrip east of Coeur d’Alene was made legal Thursday by the Kootenai County Commission, ending years of battles.
The commission approved a zone change for the 180 acres off Borely Road and a conditional use permit that allows the private airstrip, which was the site of a 2002 plane crash that killed two friends of the owners’ family.
That means Brent and Moura Regan can once again use the paved runway for their personal planes. A judge had blocked the use of the airstrip until the commission made a decision.
The deal “was a give-and-take,” said Scott Poorman, the Regans’ attorney.
The Regans agreed to down-zone their property, changing its designation from agricultural suburban to rural. That essentially lowers the property value because fewer homes could be developed on the property, Poorman said. Now the Regans can subdivide the property only into five-acre lots, instead of the two-acre lots allowed under the agricultural suburban classification.
The change made it possible for the county to grant a permit for the runway because private airstrips are allowed only in rural areas.
Poorman said it was a good compromise because the Regans have no plans to develop their property.
“They bought the 180 acres because they like their privacy and Brent likes to fly to work,” Poorman said.
The permit is good only as long as the Regans own the property.
If the couple sells, the new owner would have to ask the county for a new conditional use permit.
“It’s a check and balance,” commission Chairman Gus Johnson said. “There’s assurance we can talk to the new owner.”
The Kootenai County Planning Department sent a letter in 1999 threatening to sue the Regans if they didn’t stop using the airstrip because it violated county law. The letter said that the Regans could appeal the county’s interpretation of the law or apply for an amendment.
Instead, the couple filed a lawsuit in 2002 for relief against Kootenai County while asking for an interpretation of the law as it applied to their private airstrip.
The district court ruled against the Regans, prohibiting them or anyone else from using the airstrip. They appealed to the Idaho Supreme Court, which ruled that the couple should have solved their problem at the county level, not in the courts.
During legal mediation in April, the county commission agreed to expedite the process, meaning the county wouldn’t require the Regans to start the process over and submit a new application.
The Regans bought the property in 1999 and paved the landing field that is used by them and “noncommercial invitees.”
Pilot Grant Bailey, 32, of Boise, and Barry Boepple, 39, of Meridian, were killed October 2002 when their Lancair IV-P, an experimental aircraft, crashed as it was attempting to land on the Regans’ airstrip.
Passenger Nate Calvin, 34, of Boise, broke his leg and suffered cuts and scrapes.
All three men worked for Chelton Flight Systems in Boise.
Calvin was flying in to visit Brent Regan.
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