Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Camas P&Z OKs hillside ordinance change

Ordinance could allow for more ridgeline construction

Express Staff Writer

The rights of Camas County landowners to build on ridges and enjoy scenic views from their homes may soon take precedence over those of neighbors and passersby to have unrestricted views of hillside scenery.

The county Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously last week to recommend an overhaul of the county's Hillside and Foothill Areas of Development ordinance, removing 10-year-old language that restricts most construction on ridges above 5,200 feet elevation. The ordinance has banned such construction "so as not to create a silhouette against the sky as viewed from Federal roads, State roads and/or roads maintained by Camas County."

That language, from Article XI of the county zoning ordinance, was replaced in a new draft ordinance with less onerous restrictions incorporating ridgeline construction into natural topography, including the use of stepped wall construction, natural colors and other design guidelines.

"The proposed new ordinance has vague language regarding protecting hillsides, but it is less clear, and more ambiguous then the current ordinance," wrote attorney Michael Pogue, who represents property owner Bill Cimino, in a letter to the County Commission last summer. "The new ordinance will lead to additional hillside and ridgeline development in the County."

County Planning Director Dwight Butlin, who co-authored the ordinance changes along with legal counsel, said he would not comment on Pogue's contention that the changes would result in undesirable development.


Butlin authorized a construction permit last year for a building on a ridge six miles east of Fairfield on property belonging to Boise resident Merlyn Colpron. A temporary restraining order was issued last summer by 5th District Judge Robert Elgee to stop construction of the building, which was allegedly permitted in violation of the hillside ordinance.

Butlin said in December in an interview that he helped draft the new ordinance to eliminate the unfairness that results from the current ordinance's exemption for ranchers and farmers, as well as for subdivision developers.

"I initiated it because there appears to be a conflict in the ordinance. It allows some people to develop and others not to," he said.

The recommended ordinance draft will be presented to the county commissioners at their next meeting on Monday, March 12.

"At that time, the Board of Commissioners may review the complete package and may decide whether to have another public hearing or start deliberations on the proposed ordinance change," Butlin stated in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express.

Tony Evans:

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