For the week of June 3 thru June 9, 1998  


Blind mice

The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission has approved the first home to be built under hillside protection provisions that apply within the county’s new mountain overlay district.

It took the commission two hours to come to a decision. It’s no wonder. Only two of the six commissioners who voted had visited the site to examine how the home would affect surrounding views. The blind mice voted anyway.

It was a poor start for hillside protection.

The county imposed hillside building restrictions and created a mountain overlay district after residents found the county had no means to control hillside homes or starter mansions that had begun to pop up in remote areas. The district was designed to stop pollution of previously pristine views by poorly concealed houses and road scarring.

The county decided to control the visual pollution with placement and design requirements.

Common sense tells us that commissioners need to see a site, complete with height markers, to determine whether homes will hurt mountain views. Scale models and good imaginations are no substitute for seeing the real thing.

County officials said commissioners don’t have enough time and the county doesn’t have enough money to conduct site visits. In other word, the county has an ordinance, but no way to enforce it.

If county officials continue this blind-mice approach to mountain design review, they will eventually have no unscarred hillsides or unpolluted views to worry about.


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