County delays decision on zoning regulations; discusses meeting process, board packets

The Cascade County planning board voted during their July 23 meeting to table discussion of the proposed zoning regulations to their next meeting, at which time they’ll schedule another public meeting at a larger venue when all seven board members can attend.

The board met briefly Tuesday morning since its bylaws and state law require it to meet at least once in the months of January, April, July and October.

Richard Liebert, a planning board member, said he wanted staff to consider putting marijuana under the healthcare aspect of the zoning regulations.

He said he was confused about the proposed Mixed Use 20 and Mixed Use 40 districts.

The proposed MU 20 has merit, he said, but “I find MU 40 problematic.”

Liebert also asked how the recent organizational change of pulling planning from Public Works and making it a standalone department was impacting staff.

During their June 12 meeting, the board unanimously voted to close the public hearing and accept written comment through June 20.

According to the agenda for the July 23 meeting, county planning staff will recommend that the board table any decision on the proposed changes.

The proposed changes and submitted public comments are available here.

County resumes discussions on proposed changes to zoning regulations

Sandor Hopkins, interim planning director, said the county has budgeted for a planning director and three planners. The director position is still being advertising, as is the public works director since the current director is retiring.

Hopkins said for now, their day to day activities haven’t changed.

Liebert also said he’d like to see case law that requires the staff to read lengthy staff reports during planning board meetings.

“We cannot go through 35 minutes of just constant reading,” he said.

Charity Yonkers, a deputy county attorney, said there’s legal precedence for reading the staff report and there’s liability to the county, particularly in land use decisions.

She said that not all things the county does are required by law, but it will protect the county in case of litigation over a land use decision.

Yonkers said the staff report needs to be read into the record in case a decision goes to court.

“We really need to make sure everything we can do, we are doing,” Yonkers said.

Liebert said there are ways to be more efficient and to make the public more aware of the process up front in public meetings.

Ken Thornton, a planning board member, asked if the board could go paperless and have the county issue small computers or use flash drives to transmit documents to the board instead of mailing sometimes large stacks of paper.

Hopkins said he liked the idea and was “kind of appalled at how much paper we burn through.”

The county is required to have hard copies of some things on hand, such as proposed zoning changes, and not everyone has computers or internet access or prefers to read large documents online.

Some board members say they wouldn’t have the internet connection to download documents if sent by email, but could manage if they were available on flash drives, while others said they prefer to have paper copies to be able to make notes.