May 14, 2019
To: Greg Snow, Director of Community Development
From: Renata S. Moon, MD, FAAP on behalf of the Inland NW Physicians for Healthy Communities
Dear Mr. Snow,
I’m writing to you in response to your public notice informing community citizens of a significant planned change to Pend Oreille County zoning. Your public notice states that this would be a blanket county-wide rezoning of public lands in Pend Oreille County and that these public lands, under the proposal, would be rezoned for “public/ institutional uses.” Furthermore, your public notice states that “the lead agency for this proposal has determined that it does not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is not required…..”
I’m writing on behalf of the Inland NW Physicians for Healthy Communities, a large and growing group of concerned area physicians and allied health care practitioners, to firmly state that we are OPPOSED to this proposal to blanket rezone these public lands. We are opposed to this proposal based on three separate major issues:
1. Many community citizens live in this beautiful region of the country BECAUSE of its RURAL setting. They choose to raise their families away from heavy industry and all of the well-documented health related problems that result from living near heavy industry. Rezoning these public lands to allow institutional uses would allow future polluting industries to move into the area, ruining the rural lifestyle for countless families and community members and increasing their health risks.
2. Let’s not kid ourselves. Everyone living in this region is fully aware that PacWest is waiting at the door for the Pend Oreille County Commissioners to rezone these lands so that they can proceed with their application to build a silicon smelter in Newport. This silicon smelter, if ever built, will clearly have SIGNIFICANT ADVERSE IMPACTS ON OUR ENVIRONMENT in Pend Oreille County and Northern Idaho. To deny the need for an environmental impact statement now, on the basis that the rezoning proposal “does not have a probable significant adverse impact on the environment” is simply laughable. To put this another way, let this letter serve as notice to you that this large group of physicians is telling you that rezoning these lands WILL very likely have a significant adverse impact on the environment and that (at minimum) an environmental impact statement (EIS) is CLEARLY REQUIRED.
3. Some of your county commissioners have significant conflicts of interest if they vote in favor of this proposal to blanket rezone these public lands. The public is watching you closely; we ask that you remember that decisions based solely on greed or emotions (on both sides of this very divisive issue) are especially dangerous. Our children are looking to us to make wise choices based on facts and our actions today will have a great impact on their future. Please, we need to come together as a region and make wise decisions for us all as neighbors, community members, and Americans.
Renata S. Moon, MD, FAAP