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Idaho Enterprise

Planning & Zoning

County Engineer Stephen Freiburger addresses the Planning and Zoning Commission on the subject of an Airport Overlay Zone.

The Oneida County Planning and Zoning Commission held two public hearings, as well as a regularly scheduled meeting on January 3, its first meeting of the year.

Lyle Fuller introduction

The Board was joined by new county attorney Lyle Fuller, who introduced himself at the start of the meeting.  Fuller grew up in Blackfoot, lived in Alaska, and went to BYU and Duke University, and has practiced in Missouri and Kansas, as well as Utah and Idaho.  Fuller eventually moved to SLC where he practiced water law.  He moved to Preston in 2010, where his firm works with a lot of land use, water rights, and local government issues.  Has been city atty for Preston since 2019, as well as Downey, Bancroft, Lava.  He is Married with 4 kids, the youngest serving mission in Texas.

Public Hearing—Randy Gamble

The first hearing was held over a rezone request from Randy Gamble. 

Rhonda Neal spoke first by presenting the county’s staff report.  Randy Gamble had petitioned PZ for a rezone of property.  Surrounding land is all agricultural to every side.  The property is just around the corner from exit 17.  The report was submitted for review, and several agencies responded, including ATC, IDAWY, the School District, Sheriif, Rocky mtn power, the postal service, EMS, Engineer.

The engineer requested some changes, which were responded to by the applicant.

Gamble hopes to develop a subdivision with three 5 acre lots.  Lots of that size are not permitted in Agriculturally zoned land, but are permitted in rural residential. The fourth lot will be agricultural, and not permitted for dwelling.

Policies required to meet the rezone were presented: Property Rights, Citizen Participation, Resources (a water study needs to be done).  A number of things related to water need to be submitted before the request would be granted.  Most of it is proof that the water, sewage, open space, runoff, etc. will be effective.  The application also has to demonstrate that it will protect wildlife and scenic views.  Other policies that need to be satisfied include how water usage will be monitored and enforced, how the development will account for necessary resources such as water, confirmation of appropriate height and setbacks for structures, establishment of a common location for school pickup, clearance with the  airports overlay district, and compliance with the National Emergency program.

In their final recommendation, Staff recommends the following conditions: owner will follow staff report and development agreement action prior to rezone; owner will submit plat reviews and permits to be in compliance with Develpment Code; concept plan represents owner’s current concept—as it evolves, some changes may occur—if county determines they require additional requirements, a public hearing may be held; owner will comply with requirements of local, federal, and state governments.

County engineer Stephen Freiburger explained that the development would have to enter into a development agreement based on the intitial proposal.  Any changes would need further permissions.  The lots were stated to be 230-240 feet wide. 

In his statement to the commission, Randy Gamble explained that he had recently sold a five acre lot on the property and a well for it had been checked out.  The houses would be built with easements for individual driveway access.  The houses will be along the road, while the back will be ag land.  

During the public comments section, a letter from potential neighbors Brad and Melanie Coleman was read into the record, stating “we appreciate your willingness to listen…in general, we are against spot-zoning.  It will create an incontiguous county that will be difficult for road maintenance etc.  We would like to keep as much land ag as possible.”

Commission Chair Josh Paskett asked for clarification about what was included in the rezone.  Rhonda Neal explained the rezone applied to 15 acres, and that the county would need to provide a list of changes attached to an approval, or a list of reasons for a denial so that the applicant could appeal on those specifics.

Members Vickie Ingram and Steve Daniels suggested that they would like more time to study and review the request before making any decisions at the next meeting, Feb 7.  Daniels motioned to table discussion until the next meeting before making a decision.  The motion was approved.

Public Hearing—Airport Overlay Zone

The second hearing involved the formal adoption of an Overlay District for the airport.

An Overlay district (which has been in place, but not formalized under the new Development Code) needs to be adopted in order to protect the airport as an investment, as well as the pilots etc. who use the airport.  The district is just west of Malad, and mostly impacts ag land, though it does cover a residential portion of the city’s impact zone, and the industrial park.  The district follows section lines for efficiency.  The overlay district involves a series of “surfaces” that regulate the height of buildings constructed within the overlay.  On the immediate location of the airport, the height is limited most severely, and increasingly less so at stages as the zone moves outward from the airport.  Permits are required to build within the AOLZ.  There have been no permits of that sort to the PZ’s knowledge.  Most of the impacted neighbors would be in the approach zone, which limits ag structures to 50’ and in RR to 35’.  A few things that exist currently in the overlay violate the proposed overlay, and are either roads or fences.  It would be the airport’s responsibility to mitigate those structures.  

During public comments, Jared Simpson stated that  “I am on the airport board.  We strongly support this.  It looks to me like the new zoning would just take a permit to build inside of it.  I don’t see how it would be an issue.”  

David Nimer explained that “I think it’s important that a map be available.  I have been worried about this for a long time.  The houses, especially on the east side of the airport, might be a problem.”  He suggested that a “displaced threshold” would allow for not interfering with nearby homes.  This is a situation where the GPS coordinates for the runway are adjusted for certain aircraft in order to bring the existing strip into conformity with the overlay requirements.

Terry Davis mentioned that his property was at the end of the north runway, with a pivot just west of the runway.  He asked the commission who would be responsible for installing a light on the structure if it was deemed necessary.  This would be the airport’s responsibility. 

Stephen Freiburger mentioned that some areas have been designated as those which might be sought for purchase on the receipt of grants.  The property would be purchased to clear the approach, though this would be a voluntary sale, not an eminent domain issue.

Tom Willie stated that he was not against the overlay per se, but he did question why the zone needed to be so large.  His farm is 1.6 miles from the airport.  Freiburger said that it was unlikely there would be any effects on his property as a result of the overlay zone, other than potentially at the end of the runways.  Willie asked about the future plan for the airport, and how much expansion was foreseen.  It was reported that the footprint of the airport was not likely to change at all in the foresseable future.

Tracy Davis raised the issue of whether the pivot control system would cause a communication problem with the airport’s control tower.  No one present had a definite response, but explained that if such interference occurred, it would be the airport’s responsibility to address it.

Vern Williams asked whether they were any changes to the plane types that would be landing at the airport.  Paskett responded that nothing would be changing on that level, and that the overlay needed to be approved as a part of the Development Code, but that it was already substantially in place the same way.

A letter from Kirk Willie was read into the record.  He expressed the belief that blocking out sections of the whole valley, especially within the impact zone, when the county is trying to encourage growth, is a mistake.  He suggested establishing a corridor where planes can fly below 500 ft.  

During the discussion segment of the hearing, the commission articulated the need for approval.  The request is specifically to add the overlay district to the zoning map in accordance with the Development code.  This will protect the public investment that has been done, and keep the airport viable for grants and funding.  The county will establish that non-conforming uses within the overlay that cannot receive permits can be compensated; the city also needs to adopt the overlay; the airport should be resp for any road changes that are required by FAA.

Commissioner Steve Daniels asked whether the requirements in this overlay district are any more or less stringent than other communities?  It was reported by Freiburger that the regulations were based on state and Federal requirements for airports of the same size.  It is comparable with Rigby, Jerome, Arco, Preston, and other rural airport zones.

Chairman Paskett motioned to table the decision until the next meeting for further study.  The matter should be decided at the 2/7 meeting.

Regular Meeting

Following the hearing, the regular meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission was called to order.

During the meeting, the commission met with Cherese McClain and Mike Williams (who helped author the Development Code) over Zoom to discuss some potential changes to the section covering Agricultural Zones.  

Several issues have been raised a number of times since the passage of the Development Code relating to the process for splits and development in Ag zones.  These are largely related to dividing parcels for sale within families under the one-time split allowance.  Of particular relevance were the current density requirements (which limit the number of homes possible on Ag parcels), and a minimum size under which a one-time split can be allowed.  A number of parcels currently in Ag zones were established before the current Development Code, and would create non-conforming lot sizes if splits were granted.  Language to clarify division for these sorts of parcels, as well as stating a minimum resulting lot size were seen as needed.

Other issues include the lack of ag feeding as a stated allowable exception for use permitting.  It was agreed by the commission and McClain and Williams that a solution is needed for these issues, which will continue to be raised moving forward.  Another issue the group considered was the concept of “clustering,” which holds that residences in split parcels should be located within as close proximity to one another in order to leave as much contiguous ag land as possible.

The Assessors Office was represented by Assessor Kathleen Atkinson, who raised the further issue of the difference between land zoned as agricultural for the purposes of development, and land labeled agricultural for the purposes of tax assessment.  While often overlapping, the two labels are not directly connected, which has caused some confusion.   

The Commission has been working on streamlining and clarifying the new Development Code for months, and will continue to do so in an ongoing way as needed. 

As a result of the discussion, Paskett proposed “taking the quarter section language out and stick[ing] with 40 acres per housing lot, and stating that the one time split must be on original parcel as of 2000 and result in nothing smaller than 5 acres.”  The commission and the outside advisors will meet again on February 21 to further discuss implementing these changes.  

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