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HB 643: Facilitating rural sprawl – 2022

Summary: House Bill 643 would exempt certain subdivisions from local planning and zoning regulations.

ICL's position: Oppose

Current Bill Status: Dead

Issue Areas: Counties, Growth, Planning and zoning, Private Lands

Official Legislative Site

March 10 update: The McCall Star News reported that both House Bills 547 and 643 are dead for the year.


Rep. Terry Gestrin (R-Donnelly) has sponsored a bill on behalf of development interests to exempt certain subdivisions from any county planning and zoning requirements.

The bill removes all requirements for subdividing parcels greater than 80 acres into lots of 20 acres or more. If passed into law, parcels could be carved up and sold off, even if no review is conducted to determine whether the lots are suitable for development, whether they are accessible, and whether county services are available.

Idaho is facing unprecedented growth, and managing that growth outside of incorporated city limits is the responsibility of Idaho’s counties. When development occurs without adequate consideration, counties can face steep costs associated with emergency, sewer, garbage and other costly services. Increasing development in the Wildland-Urban Interface also complicates fire management and threatens homeowners, firefighters and taxpayers.

The bill is reportedly being supported by the Wilks brothers, who have purchased over 200,000 acres in the forested mountains of Valley, Adams, Boise and Idaho Counties. Over the last year, they have sought to subdivide and sell off a number of their properties into 20-acre parcels, in order to evade local zoning requirements. In response to concerns that many of those parcels were inaccessible or “unbuildable,” Valley County closed the loophole that exempted subdivision into parcels greater than 20 acres.

This legislation would mandate that counties restore that loophole, leading to unmanaged growth across the entire state.