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House Local Government Committee Sends Optional County Planning Bill to Amending Order

Posted By Johanna M. Bell, Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The House Local Government Committee voted to send to the House amending order an AIC-opposed bill that would have made planning and zoning optional for counties. 

House Bill 127 is sponsored by Rep. John Green of Kootenai County.

We extend our appreciation to AIC Counsel Jerry Mason; Leon Letson, Planner for the City of Boise who spoke on behalf of the Idaho Planning Association; Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns; and Bellevue Council President Kathryn Goldman for their excellent testimony to the committee. 

We also appreciate the help of the city officials who contacted members of the committee.

“The value of comprehensive planning is that there’s continuity over the long term,” said Rep. Brooke Green, D-Boise.  “What happens when after the next election we have a new set of county commissioners and they decide they don’t want to plan?”

Committee members expressed a desire to fix the language in the bill to greater clarify its scope and expressed concerns about the burdens of planning and land use regulation that are borne by rural counties. 

“The change of words has been described as simple, but the consequences are far reaching,” said AIC Counsel Jerry Mason.  “Changing the word ‘shall’ to ‘may’ relieves county commissioners of their duty to plan.  This provision has been in the law since 1975, was enacted on a bipartisan basis and has been in effect for 44 years.”

“This bill has the potential to introduce great instability for a county,” Mason said.  “This isn’t something you can just turn off and turn on.  Putting planning back in place once it is gone is practically impossible."

“Much of what happens on the fringes of existing cities will become part of that city in the future,” Mason explained.  “If planning is inadequate, that means that cities face the costs of fixing deficient infrastructure.”

AIC will be closely monitoring the progress of the bill in the amending order and will provide updates as soon as information is available.   

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