Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


On March 9 of this year, based on information available at the time, an order was issued from County Zoning Administrator Gary Goodman which stated the River City Shuttle business at 512 Guleke Street could no longer operate a business at that location.

Lorall Simmons immediately filed an appeal against the ruling. Filing such an appeal requires paying a fee of $500.

Included in the appeal request was a letter from the city written to Simmons’ father on June 14, 2004. The 2004 letter documented that the River City Shuttle business had been classified as ‘a legal, pre-existing non-conforming use’ operation. That letter had not been available during Goodman’s original research of the Guleke property’s history. Due to the previously unknown status of the property, on June 1, 2017 Goodman rescinded his March 9 notice and recommended the City Council reimburse the $500 filing fee paid by Simmons.

At the June 7 meeting of the Salmon City Council a poll was taken of the five members present as to who among them had discussed the property use issue with Simmons. City Clerk Mary Benton said any past discussion between a council member and Simmons constituted a direct conflict of interest which would eliminate that councilman from casting a vote and from participating in any council discussion pertaining to the matter. City Attorney Fred Snook has also recused himself from participation.

As of that meeting only two councilmen had not engaged in any discussion of the Guleke property. Two votes do not represent a council majority therefore a legal opinion about the issue of the council voting on a refund for Simmons was directed to County Prosecutor Bruce Withers. He will also be consulted about which entity should make the refund since according to Benton a prior arrangement, currently in place, directs that filing fees go to the County Building Department. 

Benton told the council the Rule of Thumb to remember is, “If it is a land use issue do not discuss it, period.” She said land use issues are run by a whole different set of regulations one of which being, if a councilman discusses an issue of land use he or she can no longer cast a vote on that topic. Benton reiterated, “If it’s land use at all, don’t discuss it.”

An item related to proper protocol was placed on the council’s next meeting’s agenda.

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