Boise planning director Hal Simmons said a new ordinance isn’t that different from the original Boise River System Ordinance, which became law in 1993. It establishes setbacks on the main river channel and tributaries such as Logger Creek as a way of preserving wildlife habitat and recreational opportunities, protecting water quality and shielding nearby properties from flooding.
“It’s been a very successful ordinance,” Simmons said. “A big part of the reason our whole river corridor is so vegetated and full of trees today is because of that ordinance. And we are dead-set to enforce it.”
The new river ordinance, which establishes “waterways overlay districts,” is one part of a larger consolidation of three chapters of city law governing property subdivisions, historic preservation and zoning. The City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing Tuesday on adoption of the 420-page ordinance.
“We have a zoning code that various chapters were written over different periods of time by different people and each one has a different style and a different format and it’s just become very difficult to follow along,” Simmons said.
Barbara Martin-Sparrow, who helped form the original river ordinance, disagreed that the new format is better. She testified at a Nov. 5 meeting that the placement of definitions of certain terms in a single “definitions section” at the end of the document makes them less accessible and the entire ordinance less clear. She said last week that she’s also worried the rewrite will open the door for activities — such as vegetation-cutting — that could weaken some river protections.
There’s nothing to worry about, Simmons said.
“The protections are all there. All the standards are still there,” he said. “We have not removed a single requirement of the river system ordinance. All we’ve done is we’ve tried to restate it in a way that the average person can actually understand.”
Sven Berg: 377-6275
The meeting Tuesday starts at 6 p.m. in the State Capitol’s west wing, 700 W. Jefferson St., Boise.