Idaho Falls Citizen Journalism

Leslie Shumate's picture


A triangular section of properties in the vicinity of 710 Union Avenue was the focus of many questions at the November 16 meeting of the Salmon City Council

Shannon Weaver along with other neighborhood property owners maintained the area has always been zoned “Commercial” and she assumed it still was until recently when she learned it is zoned “Transitional.” She is asking that the area zoning be changed to commercial and/or a Special Use Permit be issued. Weaver asked that the $500 fee for the Special Use Permit be waived and asked if the public notification process can also be waived. She based her request on the fact the issue has been sitting unattended for so long.

The discussion started with City Attorney Fred Snook pointing out granting such requests without going through the process required by code would be in violation of local and state statutes. He said it has nothing to do with the merits of the request, just with making sure proper procedure is followed. He said that until the proper process is implemented the city has no authority to act on the request. Snook’s recommendation was to refer the property owners back to City/County Planning and Zoning Administrator Gary Goodman who would be happy to help with a rezone application or the special use permit application process. Snook suggested the matter be tabled until the next council meeting where Goodman could be asked to explain the situation.

Throughout the lengthy discussion, which included Ray Henderson acting as a spokesperson for area property owners, it was determined that a map from November of 2015 that lists the properties as commercial was a proposal which was never approved. It was also determined that the city is still under the old Development Code, established around 1992, therefore those are the rules and zoning designations that have to be followed. Under the old code the property in question is designated as transitional. Property owner Laverne Sessions asked why her tax bills list the property as commercial and City Clerk Mary Benton said the Assessor’s Office bills based on how the property is being used, not on how it is zoned.

One unanswered question was exactly when the area’s zoning was changed from commercial to transitional. Locating that date was included in the motion to table the subject until Goodman can be present. The motion passed unanimously.

In his remarks Henderson stated the P&Z maps and questions relating to the transitional zoning designation were submitted to the city last July.

During the City Council’s Roundtable Discussion Councilman Russ Chinske seized on the opportunity to say the previous discussion was a fine example of, “…us kicking the can down the road and the bureaucracy and the fiddling around that we do around here and people getting hurt and us losing business.” He said he hopes the evening’s much delayed zoning debate will move the council to make decisions on issues, rather than table them, and to find ways to make things happen. Chinske said, “I hope it’s an inspiration to us that when we’re faced with decisions, that we make them.” He added that the city’s updated Development Code should have been completed years ago. 

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