Boundary County junkyards; because commissioners want it this way

Boundary County is known for many things – scenic beauty, recreational activities of all kinds – and junkyards. You don’t need to travel very far in the County before finding a lot of properties covered with junk of all types.

There are several of them on Highway 95, and a few more on Highway 2. Some are larger than others, but all are a nuisance. One of the bigger offenders happens to be in my neighborhood.

Imagine pristine farmland, with ten acre home sites, large expanses of grassy fields, a few cattle, and nice homes. Just three years ago, this was our neighborhood. The kind of place a person would like to live.

This is what we live with now:

These pictures show only part of the disaster. There is much more on just this one lot – dozens of shipping containers and semi trailers, scrap metal, junk vehicles, piles of tires, old building materials and equipment of all kinds – but these images should at least convey the idea.

The neighbors all around me have been fighting this local junkyard problem since it first started just a few short years ago. Despite numerous complaints to county officials in every department, nothing has been done. The outsiders who brought this mess here created the disaster, but the real problem lies with Boundary County leadership.

This whole area is zoned for agriculture and forestry. Junkyards are prohibited. While this situation is a clear zoning violation, County officials prefer to ignore it. They have offered a long list of excuses why they don’t want to deal with it, including the following:

  • It doesn’t look like a junkyard to me
  • You need to talk to the other department
  • The zoning ordinance is not written well
  • If you don’t like the view, put up a fence
  • It can’t be a nuisance because it might be less than half an acre

A dozen residents spent two years working with both Planning & Zoning and the County Commissioners to show them the significance of the problem and help them improve the zoning ordinances. The County Commissioners pretended to be interested in the process but in the end, they rejected almost all of the proposed changes. They offered no explanation as to why.

They could have enforced the zoning ordinances as they are. They refused to.

They could have accepted the proposed changes to the ordinances to make them easier to enforce. Instead, they rejected almost everything proposed, accepting only trivial updates.

They could have accepted the proposed changes to the Comprehensive Plan to clarify the intent of the ordinances. This would have set the county on a better path of development. They rejected these as well.

It is clear to us that they never intended to do anything. They lied to us, first by having a zoning ordinance that they refused to enforce, then by pretending to be interested in updating it with our help.

Your Commissioners apparently have no desire to keep Boundary County a rural, agrarian area. It seems that they want the whole county to become a random collection of junkyards and poorly planned development – a tribute to incompetence. Or is it cronyism? It is difficult to tell.

This kind of incompetent leadership might seem like “protecting private property rights”, but really it is just aiding a few select individuals at the expense of others. All of the residents of our area are being hurt because of the favoritism shown to a few.

Many people are moving into the area. Eventually this will no longer be tolerated and the likely result is a jump to over-regulation and severe land use restrictions. Because County leadership won’t do their jobs now, we will eventually end up with the kind of heavy restrictions that we all moved here to get away from.

So, why all the junkyards in Boundary County? It’s obvious – your Commissioners want it this way.

John Poland


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