Support for comprehensive land-use planning for Idaho; support for local planning within state guidelines and with state assistance; support for citizen participation and consideration of the public’s interest in land-use decisions.
The 1973 Convention of the League of Women Voters of Idaho adopted a study of State Land-Use Planning. Following two years of study, the position was developed in 1975. League supported legislation which became the Local Planning Act of 1975. Land Use Letters explaining the local Planning Act and exploring the myths and realities of land-use planning were published in 1976 and 1977.
Over the intervening years, the League has successfully opposed continuous attempts to repeal or weaken the Local Planning Act. In 1981, a concerted effort included guest editorials in local and conservation newspapers, legislative bill analyses for planners and planning commissioners throughout the state, and intensive lobbying at the statehouse. In November 1982, LWVID sponsored a seminar/workshop on the Local Planning/Zoning Commissions in their communities and counties.
While mandated by the Local Planning Act, many communities and some counties in Idaho have yet to become effectively involved in the planning process. Growth in the 1990s has spurred many Idaho cities and counties which had ignored the Local Planning Act to institute comprehensive plans and zoning. In 1995, only five counties lack comprehensive plans. In four out of the five counties without comprehensive plans, the major cities do have planning and zoning. Growth is also causing many communities with existing comprehensive plans to update their plans. The League will continue to work for full implementation, statewide, of the Local Planning Act. Another of the League’s goals is to see state government again become active in the planning process.
The League adopted this position in March of 1975.
The League of Women Voters of Idaho believes that Idaho needs comprehensive land-use planning to provide orderly growth and development to promote the wise use of natural resources, to protect the environment and to enhance the quality of life for all Idaho citizens. Development should be judged on the basis of need and social and environmental goals as well as economic gain. The League believes local units of government should make local land-use decisions, but it is the responsibility of the state to determine general policies and to establish a process for and use planning. The state should set guidelines, require local planning, subject local plans to state review and veto plans which do not meet state standards. Local governments should be able to adopt more stringent regulations than the state guidelines if they wish and should be allowed to use innovative land-use planning and regulatory techniques. Local governments should be assisted with technical and financial help from the state. The state should plan for areas where local governments fail to act.
State comprehensive planning is needed for areas and activities which are of more than local impact or concern such as historic, fragile or hazardous lands, renewable resource lands, areas affected by public investment and developments whose benefits or detriment affect more than one locality. As future needs are identified, the state should acquire and hold lands for public purposes by purchase, easement, leases or options.
The planning process should ensure coordination and cooperation among local governments, regional planning groups and state and federal agencies. Methods should be found by which the state could influence decisions made for federal lands within the state. State agencies controlling lands should be required to do comprehensive land-use planning which conforms to state guidelines. Before state endowment lands are sold, the proposed use should be reviewed for conformity to local plans and state policies.
All levels of government should provide for and encourage citizen participation in all stages of the land-use planning process. Mechanisms should be developed to minimize conflicts of interest on the part of persons who make land-use planning decisions. Private property rights should be protected; however, where there are conflicts between private and public interests, greater consideration should be given to long-term public benefit. Appeal boards should be established to arbitrate conflicts between governmental bodies and also between citizens and governmental bodies. The citizens’ right to appeal should include all citizens regardless of residence, ownership of property or financial involvement.