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Owen Benjamin: 'They're drunks, liberals from California'

June 27, 2022

Owen Benjamin posted a nearly three-hour web stream this morning, lauding his own comedic genius and turning his rapier-like "edgy" wit on those who spoke in opposition to his "Beartaria" conditional use proposal at a Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission public hearing Thursday. Struggle Bear LLC is seeking the permit to waive a violation and allow continued development of cabins on a ten-acre parcel on the Moyie River accessed by Earl Lane Road.

The P&Z commission, unable to reach a decision, deferred decision authority to Boundary County Commissioners, who will schedule a second public hearing on the Struggle Bear LLC conditional use permit application once they receive the P&Z findings.

"I fantasized the s**t I wanted to say to these f**king idiots," Benjamin said. "They're drunks, liberals from California, terrified of me because of their disgusting habits, their abortions, what they did in wars ... a lot of them have trauma because of Ruby Ridge and the compounds they can't stop."

Speaking to his "bears" and reading from their comments in Episode #1431: Chill Sunday Piano, he solicits $400 contributions "to crowd fund a campground" he assured the P&Z commission would be non-commercial and solely for the use of his family and friends, and boasts that he could get 1,000 people to the county commission hearing but wouldn't, as he supports government in our constitutional republic.

Benjamin claimed at public hearing as well as in his latest episode that he did not actually need a county permit, but that he was following the process in the interest of being a good neighbor.

Per the zoning ordinance, the use does require a conditional use permit, but it appears that zoning administrators applied the wrong set of definitions by which to describe the application, classifying the cabins as "primary single-family dwellings," or residential, rather than "recreational," as defined in ordinance Chapter 2.

Under the recreational definition, Chapter 15 of the ordinance establishes that such use with five or fewer units is a moderate use and six or more units a high occupancy use. In the Agriculture/Forestry zone district, five or fewer units could have been allowed with a county development permit, provided that none of the structures were within 500 feet of an existing residence. Six or more units, commercial or not, requires a conditional use permit.

The Struggle Bear LLC application requests six recreational units and one accessory structure.

A conditional use application encompasses all development proposed on a single parcel or lot, and upon issuance, the application, as modified by standards, terms or conditions imposed becomes the controlling plan for that parcel or lot, and will not be changed or expanded without application for a new development permit.

Consideration is given as to whether the application, site plan and additional documentation provided by the applicant sufficiently demonstrate the full scope of the use proposed and whether the use proposed would constitute a public nuisance, impose undue adverse impact to established surrounding land uses or infringe on the property rights of surrounding property owners, and whether terms or conditions could be imposed adequate to mitigate those effects.

Benjamin said at public hearing Thursday that concerns about his fundraising efforts and plans for paramilitary training were for another, larger property in Bonner County he had tried to acquire but failed, and that he had done no such fund raising for the Moyie River property. His conditional use permit application in Boundary County says nothing as to the specifics of his plans for the property, such as what activities will be allowed, who and how many will be allowed, or whether or not there would be on site supervision.

That's hard to reconcile with social media posts Benjamin made last year that raised the concerns of area property owners, including the man who'd sold him the property.

“I’m telling you this because I was recently made aware of an unsettling situation with potential unpleasant outcome and want to do everything I can to prevent it,” Terry Auten wrote in a complaint to planning and zoning that, having gone unanswered, came before county commissioners May 25, 2021.

He provided a screenshot taken from a social media site dated April 4, 2021; “You may now go to Owen’s property! Here’s the address to Bearteria Sanctuary,” the headline reads. “Comedian Owen Benjamin has officially secured land at 774 Earl Lane Rd, Bonners Ferry, Idaho for his new Ruby-Ridge-style compound and has invited EVERYONE who contributed $400 (or any amount) to begin making their way here. We can now begin creating the beautiful dream bear village Owen promised us. See you there, guys!”

“This poses a clear and present danger,” long-time Earl Lane resident Ken Lustig said. “This is a commercial enterprise offering training in weapons and tactics and not a use allowed in this zone. There is no conceivable reason to allow this use. If we wait too long, it will be too late.”

“The Boundary County Planning & Zoning Department has been made aware of construction and uses occurring on Assessor’s parcel RP64N02E152114A that require permitting with Boundary County,” zoning administrator Clare Marley wrote Benjamin June 3, 2021. “No applications for the above-mentioned property have been submitted to the planning office as of the date of this letter. These activities may be in violation of Boundary County land use laws.”

If county commissioners conclude the application is complete and demonstrates the full scope of the use proposed, they can impose specific terms and conditions limiting the use to that defined, as well to protect against undue adverse impact to surrounding property owners and the community as a whole.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

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