Bonner County, ID
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Frequently Asked Questions

Note: Please be aware that Idaho is a “Buyer Beware” state. This means that properties may have been unlawfully split or developed and sellers/realtors are not required to disclose this information. This may result in higher fees for buyers to resolve legality issues or violations when ready to develop new property. Please, come in, call, or email the Planning Department to inquire about any property you have an interest in. Staff are more than happy to help answer any questions you may have.

Additionally, staff cannot confirm legality of a lot or parcel without the buyer or seller filing for a Certificate of Compliance. This does require a bit of labor on staff’s part, which is why an application is required. However, you can review “BCRC 12-616: Certificate of Compliance, Conditional Certificate of Compliance” for the standards we review the application and supplemental documents against should you wish to make your own determination.

As for buildability of a property, legality of a lot or parcel is just one factor that could affect if it is buildable. Other factors restricting development include, but are not limited to: setbacks (to property lines, septic, well, etc.), density, easements, protected natural features, and other agency restrictions (utility and service providers, local, state, & federal regulations).

Lastly, Bonner County Planning Department’s jurisdiction is limited to unincorporated Bonner County. Bonner County Planning Department does not have jurisdiction over the cities within the county. The cities have their own ordinances and building codes that may differ from the county’s. Please contact your city’s Planning Department or City Clerk for questions related to city planning.

FAQs

What to know about a property before buying?

Is there a difference between nonconforming and noncompliant?

Does Bonner County Planning Department require permits?

What other permits are required to build?

What zone is this property located in?

What uses are allowed on this property?

Setback/Distancing Information

Can property be split/subdivided?

What to know about a property before buying?

Bonner County is full of natural resources and landscapes that the ordinance protects against development. Wetlands, waterfronts/shorelines, steep hillsides, significant land disturbance, and flood hazard areas and floodways should be known features of a property before buying or developing. The public maps do not always have the necessary tools or information to know what features exist on the property, especially wetlands which are not shown on the public map provided by the county. Please, do not hesitate to contact staff with any questions.

Also, Bonner County has not had any adopted building codes since 1997. This means the structural integrity of a building is not regulated and there is not a “one-stop-shop” to obtain all permits required for building. However, the location and use of development is regulated via permits and other applications to ensure conformance with the standards of Bonner County’s local ordinance. It is highly encouraged to contact the Planning Department for any questions or concerns you may have about a property.

Is there a difference between nonconforming and noncompliant?

      Yes! Noncompliant structures and uses are illegal and subject to violations, whereas nonconforming structures and uses are legal. Please see the following definitions from the Bonner County Revised Code (BCRC) 12-814 for nonconforming below.

NONCONFORMING STRUCTURE: A structure or building, or portion thereof, which was lawfully erected or altered and maintained at the time this title was adopted, but which because of the applications of this title to it, no longer conforms to the use, height or area regulations of the zone in which it is located.

NONCONFORMING USE: A use which was lawfully established and maintained at the time this title was adopted, but which, because of the application of this title to it no longer conforms to the use regulations of the zone in which it is located.

Does Bonner County Planning Department require permits?

Bonner County’s Planning department regulates both “use” and “development.”

“Uses” and related information are enumerated under the “What uses are allowed on this property?” question.

“Development” is regulated through Building Location Permits, Declaration of Exempt Applications, Shoreland Development applications, Floodplain Development Permits, and Stormwater Management/Erosion Control Applications.

  • Permit or Applications are not required for any development where excepted from the structure definition of BCRC Title 11 Chapter 2 and enumerated therein. Regardless of being classified as exemptions or exceptions, all structures as defined in BCRC 12-819 shall adhere to the setbacks and zoning requirements per BCRC Title 12.

  • Declaration of Exempt Structure Applications are required for the following:

1. A detached nonhabitable, accessory structure used as a tool or storage shed, playhouse, carport, shop, or an agricultural structure provided the floor area does not exceed one thousand (1,000) square feet. Such structure shall have no sewage disposal utilities; a place of employment; or a place where products are erected, constructed, enlarged, improved, converted, demolished, processed, treated, or packaged for sale; nor shall such structure be a place used by or accessible to the general public. Additions shall not be added to previously exempted structures that would cause the structure to exceed one thousand (1,000) square feet.

2. An open shell structure, open shell lean-to addition, and an open shell deck addition to a residential structure or similar use where the additions shall not be added to previously exempted structures that would cause the structure to exceed one thousand (1,000) square feet. Such structure shall have no sewage disposal utilities.

  • Building Location Permits are required for all other structures that are not exempted or excepted per BCRC.

  • Floodplain Development Permits are required for any man-made change in the designated Special Flood Hazard Areas or Floodways. See the Floodplain Information & Resources for extensive information on the requirements, standards, and the great importance of following these requirements and standards when building in a floodplain or floodway.

    • Am I in a floodplain/floodway? Please see FEMA’s website and maps: FEMA Flood Maps - FEMA.gov. You can type in an address or street name/state. This will not show property boundaries.
    • Should there be any questions regarding this please contact the Planning Department and ask to speak to a floodplain manager. Staff are happy to help.

What other permits are required to build?

  • An applicant for a building location permit must also comply with any other requirements contained within Bonner County Revised Code, Idaho Code, and state or federal regulations, such as obtaining permits for sewage disposal, wells, driveway/encroachment, electrical, plumbing, and HVAC permits. Other permits may include, but are not limited to: 

    • State electrical, plumbing, mechanical, propane, manufactured home placement permits. [For more information contact the State of Idaho Division of Building Safety, 1250 Ironwood Drive, Suite 220, Coeur d'Alene, ID 83814 (800) 955-3044 or www.dbs.idaho.gov] 
    • GIS addressing assignments for all new dwellings. [1500 Highway 2, Suite 115 Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208)255-3630]
    • Bonner County Road Dept. encroachment permits. [1500 Highway 2, Suite 101, Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208) 255-5681]
    • Idaho Department of Transportation encroachment permit or approval. [Telephone: (208) 265-4312]
    • Independent Highway District encroachment permit or approval. [Telephone: (208) 255-8121]  
    • Panhandle Health District (PHD) or sewer district approval. [PHD, 2101 Pine St, Sandpoint, ID 83864 (208) 265-6384]  
    • Idaho Department of Water Resources [Telephone: (208) 762-2800]
    • Idaho Division of Environmental Quality (DEQ) or water district approval. [DEQ Telephone: (208) 769-1422]
    • Local fire district approvals. 

  • See the link below for an informational brochure regarding other permits required by state and local departments related and unrelated to land development: Do I Need a Permit?

What zone is this property located in?

  1. See the map here: Bonner County Viewer 2.0
  2. After entering the address or zooming in on the subject property, turn on the “Zoning & Landuse” layer via the stacked paper icon at the bottom left hand side of the page.
  3. Click on the “i” symbol icon then click on the parcel to obtain zoning and parcel information.

What uses are allowed on this property?

  1. Please see the BCRC Table 12-332 (Residential), Table 12-333 (Commercial), Table 12-334 (Industrial), Table 12-335 (Public Use), and Table 12-336 (Resource Based).
    1. Defer to the tables’ respective footnotes for additional conditions/restrictions/exemptions.
    2. Additional standards for specific uses can be found in BCRC Title 12 Chapter 4.8 & 4.9.
    3. Definitions of uses in the table can be found in BCRC Title 12 Chapter 8.
    4. If the proposed use cannot be found in the tables or does not quite fit in a particular definition, please call staff.
    5. Vacation Rentals require a Vacation Rental Permit.
    6. Home Occupations require a Home Occupation Permit.
    7. An assortment of uses may require conditional use permits (CUP). A “C” will be denoted in the table where a CUP is required.

  1. Events and structures of a temporary nature may need a Special Use Permit subject to the applicability section in BCRC 12-241.

Setback/Distancing Information

  1. Please see the BCRC table 12-411 (Forestry, Agricultural/Forestry And Rural Zones), and Table 12-412 (Suburban, Commercial, Industrial, Rural Service Center, Recreation and Alpine Village Zones).
    1. Defer to the tables’ respective footnotes for additional information regarding restrictions and exceptions.

  1. If the property is part of a Planned Unit Development (PUD), the setbacks per the tables listed above may not apply. Please call us for more details.

  1. Additionally, the Planning Department does not enforce CC&R’s (these are civil agreements) which may have setback requirements unique to a subdivision. The setbacks per BCRC are the minimum standards regardless of what is stated in the CC&R’s.

Can property be split/subdivided?

  • Depending on the zone and the existing acreage you may or may not be able to split your property into smaller parcels.
    • Any parcel with acreage less than the zone minimum may not be split further.
    • Any parcel exceeding the acreage of the zone minimum may be split further so long as each new parcel exceeds or meets zone minimums and can meet the applicable subdivision requirements.
    • Creation of parcels 20 acres or greater or described as a one thirty-second (1/32) aliquot description or larger may obtain a waiver of land division requirements with a review of the proposed deed. The Planning Department will stamp off on the proposed parcel’s descriptions before recording the deeds and descriptions at the Recorder’s Office.