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Thursday, September 24, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Wolf Lodge Bay plan moves forward after county discovers error means no rezone needed

UPDATED: Fri., Jan. 3, 2020

North Idaho Maritime is moving forward with a plan develop this area of Wolf Lodge Bay for use as a staging area for docks and dock-building equipment. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)
North Idaho Maritime is moving forward with a plan develop this area of Wolf Lodge Bay for use as a staging area for docks and dock-building equipment. (Kathy Plonka / The Spokesman-Review)

A divisive commercial project on Lake Coeur d’Alene’s Wolf Lodge Bay will go forward after county officials learned of a decades-old mapping mistake.

The Kootenai Board of County Commissioners was expected to vote Thursday evening on developer John Condon’s application to rezone a portion of the bay, but that vote was scrapped when the error was discovered.

The error apparently occurred when the county was transitioning zoning information from hand-drawn maps to computerized maps in 1995 and then to a geographic information system (GIS) in 1997. That led officials to require Condon to pursue a zoning change to use a half-acre parcel as a loading and unloading point for dock building materials and equipment. But that zoning change wasn’t needed, officials realized, because the parcel had already been zoned for commercial use according to a 1990 ordinance.

John Condon, one of former Spokane Mayor David Condon’s brothers, had proposed the zoning change on behalf of his company, North Idaho Maritime.

The Kootenai County hearing examiner considered the case in May and later approved the rezoning. At the time, people worried that commercial activity would hurt kokanee salmon spawning in the bay, and others cited the potential for increased traffic on the highway.

About 170 people attended a three-hour December meeting about the proposal ahead of an expected vote by county commissioners. Some 60 people did not get to offer their comments by the end of the meeting, and the vote was delayed until Thursday.

Rand Wichman, a development planner, withdrew the rezoning application Thursday after county officials confirmed the error he discovered earlier in the week.

“We’ve wasted lots of people’s time. I am sorry for that,” said Kootenai County Director of Community Development David Callahan during a Thursday meeting.

Callahan noted that the mistake predates him and all of his staff.

“We have taken measures today so that this won’t happen again,” Callahan said.

Callahan said a GIS planner will review current zoning records and compare them to historical hand-drawn maps. And he said the process for new rezoning applications will involve the review of historical zoning and ordinances up through current records.

Callahan said he will draft a special use permit for commercial activity on the parcel. Both the public and the property’s developers will be able to appeal Callahan’s decision.

Commissioners said the Idaho Department of Lands would issue any permits for activities beyond the county’s high-water mark, and the Idaho Transportation Department has jurisdiction over concerns about highway usage.

The transportation department previously granted North Idaho Maritime a commercial permit stipulating that traffic must turn right, whether entering or exiting the site. Exiting vehicles would have to drive about a half mile to the Bureau of Land Management boat launch to turn around and return to Interstate 90.

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