Planning Commission Meeting Minutes
August 21, 2000
Present: Mike Davis, Bill Smith, Rich Zimmerman, Deb Coleman, Connie Otteson, Kerry Cottrell, Linda Crapo, Dirk Mace and Bill Butterfield
Other Attendees: Pat McCoy - Fremont County Treasurer, Jerry Woods – Sr. Environmental Health Specialist, Karen Lords – P & B Administrator, Cathy Winters – P & Z Secretary, Rick Byrem, Mike Vickers – Stonegate, Norm & Tonya Ellis – Targhee Real Estate representing Kevin Wright
Rich Zimmerman called the meeting to order at 7:15; he opened by welcoming everyone to the meeting. The minutes were reviewed, Dirk Mace made a motion they be accepted as written, Deb Coleman made the second motion. The minutes were accepted unanimously as written.
The meeting began with the public hearing Code Amendment Change – Commercial Node Area – Norm & Tonja Ellis. They are trying to get a Code change in Island Park to a Commercial Node area situated on the flats. Rich Zimmerman asked Karen Lords is proper notices have been provided, she stated yes they have. Rich Zimmerman then asked the board if there are any conflicts of interest with any of the board members. No conflicts were noted.
Rich Zimmerman asked Karen Lords to report on the proposal being presented. Please review your packet for Karen’s report.
Bill Smith stated he thought we were discussing the real estate issue. Bill noted the sketch in the packet with all the other businesses sketched in. Karen stated that if they built back the building, this is similar to what they wanted to put in the building, but it may or may not actually be what they put inside the building.
Karen Lords wanted everyone to understand, that if this is changed to a commercial node area that the grand fathered use for them to rent snow machines sales and do rentals on that property, this will continue. That does not change that issue at all they will still be able to maintain the same use that was there when Grover Chatterton had it. Dirk Mace asked if they could come in and put in whatever businesses they want. Karen Lords stated we would have to look at minor or major changes of the existing land use and then I would have to make a determination whether or not that type of use is major enough that we require a public hearing. If it is minor and I can look at it as minor compared to what they have then I can issue them a Class I permit either way they will have to a permit of some sort. Bill Smith asked, if a Commercial Node were placed on this property, any future type of businesses would automatically give them the right to start to develop anything else without any permission. Karen stated they would have to come back through and give her an idea of what they were proposing then I would have to determine if they need to go through a public hearing or just issue a minor permit for minor change of use with a Class I permit. The Class I permits Karen can approve without bringing it before the board. Dirk Mace if the current commercial nodes were full or if there is property available. Karen stated there are still properties available in the established commercial node areas. Karen Lords asked the members if they remember the Island Park Commercial Node book that she had given them when they started, in the back inside cover it shows exactly where the commercial node areas already exist. Rich asked if they’re where any other questions for Karen.
Rich Zimmerman reminded everyone that would be speaking to please direct their statements only to the merits of the proposed code amendment change and to please limit their speaking to 5 minutes. Rich asked the representatives to make their statement, Norm Ellis came forward. Norm stated their basic concern is to be able to diversify on this piece of property. This building was used as a snow mobile rental in the past, 22,000 square feet is a little large for anything like that, we don’t need that much room and in lei of leaving one end of it a big old empty building, we would like, as shown on the drawings, we would like to put in some offices, strip mall, Subway sandwiches, things for the public to enjoy. Instead of having a big empty building, we want to be able to utilize the space. This is the reason we want this put into the commercial node, we want to diversify our operations, instead of just renting and selling snow machines. Grover Chatterton called and talked to our neighbor up there and he was amazed at what was going on because he sold everything in the world up there. We all know that, but that is another story all together. This is what we are asking for and the reason we are asking for it. We would like to diversity our operations instead of just being able to do one thing. Norm asked if there were any questions. Kerry Cottrell asked if Norm represented Mr. Wright, he stated yes. Kerry asked if Mr. Wright understood the commercial node and how it worked when he bought the property. Norm stated, yes Mr. Wright did understand. Kerry stated, so Mr. Wright knew there would be a good chance that he might not be able to diversify his business up there. Norm affirmed that yes, Mr. Wright did know this. Linda Crapo, asked Norm, the last time you were here, she didn’t remember anything about this commercial, she thought it was only a real estate business, is that something different. Norm stated that they were asking for a variance and last time they were turned down. It was suggested to us that we go for a commercial node code amendment change. He stated the building is going to be built one way or the other, it would be nice if we could use it for something other than just storage. Rich Zimmerman asked if District 7 had said anything about water or sewer, he asked Jerry Woods if he had any comments. Jerry stated they are hooked to central sewer, the building is, the water is private well and if they did go to commercial they would have to get a permit to have a water right for that well. The Idaho Dept. of Water Resources handles the well. Rich Zimmerman asked if the sewer would be able to handle all the added commercial use. Jerry stated that Dan Loetscher but the whole idea of the snow fluent system was that anything already on central sewer and the subdivisions and everything else that is why they went to that system. Jerry stated he could not answer the capacity question. Norm stated that he thinks if this goes to a commercial node that Kris’s plans in the future are to put in their own private well. Currently they are using the well at Grover’s house and it is running a long way it is doing an adequate job, but we would like to have our own well. Kerry Cottrell asked, the building is going to be rebuilt anyway and the commercial node isn’t approved, what are you going to use it for? Norm said they would use one end of it for recreational vehicles and the other end for snow mobile rentals. Karen stated her only concern would be for Kris and Norm to talk to water resources because they have a moratorium on for large scale businesses for drilling wells, Karen said they needed to contact them immediately and find out what the conditions would be to change the well system. Norm stated they are adequate they way they are and if they were turned down for the well they could continue the way they are. Rich asked what the time frame is on rebuilding? Norm stated they have two years, he doesn’t think they can get to it this fall maybe, maybe not depending on the contractor. Bill asked if they would build the same type of metal building? Norm said if they are forced into building what they have to, yes it will go back, metal just like it was, if can get it into a commercial node so we have a little bit of variance on it, then we will look at doing some other type of construction that conforms with the surroundings rather than a metal building. Norm said they were thinking seriously about doing something on the order of the front of the little building, which is all cedar. Dirk asked if the commercial node is approved, you are asking for 10 acres? Norm stated that is what the partial of land is covered on is 10 acres. Dirk stated, so this building doesn’t take up the entire area, only about an acre. Norm stated the building takes up 22,000 square feet. Dirk stated he is concerned with the fact that if it is turned into a commercial node that more businesses will be built. Norm stated that Karen had pointed out it has to be approved before we can do it, we can’t just go in and randomly start building. Karen interjected, if you replace that building, if it becomes a commercial node area then would Kris look at future development of those 10 acres besides the large building and the existing small building. Norm stated they have not discussed anything they are more concerned with getting back to where we started. Rich stated, that most of the commercial nodes in Island Park are areas, not just limited to 10 acres. Karen stated right there are areas where property does not sit in a subdivision and there are also subdivisions that have platted lots that actually say commercial on them, there are various sizes of commercial nodes. The 10 acres just happens to be the size of parcel owned by Kris. Rich asked if this takes into consideration across the street, (Hungry Bear) this only concern his property, Karen stated correct. Connie asked if Kris was aware that this was not a commercial node when he acquired the property? Norm stated that he was aware of the grand fathered clause, yes; he could put back exactly what was there. Rich asked if there were other statements or questions.
Rich opened the meeting to public comment. He then reminded everyone to limit there speaking to 5 minutes then if we have time we will let everybody speak, have rebuttals, etc. Keep your statements pertinent to the compliance or lack of compliance to the comprehensive plan and the developer.
Laurie Augustine, the mayor of Island Park, also a long term resident of Island Park, I have two different issues, one for the city and the planning and zoning of the city of Island Park and then I have my own personal comments and questions. Laurie then read the attached letter.
Laurie, then stated on a personal note, I heard Norm say that a building permit has been issued. If that building has to be rebuilt, I ask you that the building be one that is not the big metal shed, that somewhere there has to be a compromise for that protection that a nicer building to conform closer to what we would like it to look like in Island Park with the lodge look. When building those things need to be taken into consideration and if there has to be an exception, make an exception that is going to benefit to that. If it goes into a commercial node what is going to stop the rest of those 10 acres from being developed into commercial and perhaps more of the flats being developed into commercial once commercial has set in commercial will continue. Because if you make the exception once, you will have to make the exception time and time again. I think that is the wrong decision to make for this. I wonder if there is not a way that you can allow these people to use this property in continuing to be able to use it diversely what they would like to do and what would fit closer to what we would like it to be. If real estate is what they want to do out of that building, then I agree with a small building of that sort being used for that. I personally disagree with a strip mall, a subway things that are going to go in that way. But if you allow them to use that grand fathered clause and utilize what is there under the grand fathered clause I don’t think there would be need to turn the entire 10 acres into a commercial node. Thank you.
Rich Zimmerman then called Margene Eastman, owner of the Hungry Bear Market, the business across the street from High Mountain Adventures. I’m here to speak in favor of changing this to a commercial node. If it was changed, then Mr. Wright would have some leeway in how he would rebuild his building, if you look at the way he has remodeled the little building, he has done a very good job, made it look real attractive and it fits in and looks nice in the area. Also the building is so large, I feel he needs to share that space with someone so he can be profitable. If he is not profitable, then we will have another large building on the flats that is abandoned and that would be worse. This building sitting there looking back, I watched the Ellis’s in there business over there, the real estate has not generated any extra traffic, they have adequate parking so they could do the rental and the real estate at the same time not blocking the road way or causing problems with traffic. Also if you know business in Island Park is sometimes hard to find managers or employers and with Mr. Wright letting the Ellis’s share in his business property and run their own business, they can therefore both be a little more profitable they can share rent space with them and maybe cut them a deal and so that would help with the expenses for both of them so I hope you will consider changing this just for that area because he plans on building a building there and if he plans on building any other things he said he will need to get a permit for that and if any of that arises you can make the decision on this. I think you should change it to a commercial node so we can have a profitable business there.
Rich Zimmerman then called on Steven Neilson, a resident of Shelley, owns 5 acres directly south of development. We don’t spend a lot of time up there, we are not full time residents of Island Park, but when we are up there it is quite annoying to have that huge building there. To be able to say I’m in favor or against it at this point, I came mainly to find out information, because 10 acres of rezoning seems awful open to me. Perhaps a special use permit would be more appropriate than to rezone the entire 10 acres. Once it is zoned commercial you will have a 10 acre commercial zone and anything that is in the county is okay to go in there and any future owner, should he decide to sell, which is his prerogative as well. We don’t know what the future brings and that is what the planning and zoning commission intent is to plan for the future. I don’t see any objection personally to the little mall inside the building, but it is a sketch, not a definite plan, not a commitment, not financial plan or anything, it is only an idea. If he is asking for a blanket 10 acre change to a commercial zone, I and perhaps the rest of the owners of our little parcel would blanket object to it because we don’t know what’s going to happen nor do you at this point nor does the owner himself and so a qualified support would be in order, more of a special use permit more specific for what is there and what is going to happen to the rest of the 10 acres, I don’t think it is the counties position to make sure that is a profitable investment for the rest of the 10 acres, I think something that existed there and certainly could continue to exist but I would hate to see a great big metal building go up there again.
Rich Zimmerman then called Doug Drake, property owner in Island Park; I have only lived there a short time, 14 years and have seen a lot of growth in Island Park. When this property was first acquired there was no building there whatsoever, just some buildings there and some pine trees. He was given permission a barn to house horses in, so when he came up on the weekends he had someplace to keep his horses and tack, down the road he changed this building from a just a residential place into a business because we did not have commercial nodes at that time, so it from a horse barn to a snow mobile shop. Then they were given permission I guess to build this big building to rent snowmobiles and before Grover ever put up this other business, this first business there was nothing in the flats whatsoever and a lot of people were against building anything in the flats because of the beauty of the flats and what it meant to Island Park, the wetlands that are there and a business was given permission to build a business out there before Grover put this one in and I understand that the county refused a business to be built out on the flats, but somehow got through the City of Island Park to put in. I set there and I feel like if there are moratoriums put on these business that are out there right now I’m in favor of them staying because we are losing more of these open beauties up out there in the flats. I believe if you let them rezone this 10 acres it is just a start to go from one end of the flats to the other because I don’t see how you can stop other people from purchasing the property to tell them what they can’t do when we are not putting a halt to what we can stop now. When Grover had this place and it did close up and these other when they bought the property they were told when they bought it what they would have to use it for so other people did not buy the property. I feel like has had there chances at buying this property but they elected not to because they were told what it had to be used for. We were also told when Mr. Wright bought this building that he was going to put in motels, shopping malls, and I thought those were just rumors, but it seems like to me that tonight things are coming to fact that this is what we are going to do, if you open the door for us, then we are going to develop the entire 10 acres and before we know we have both sides of that whole thing developed into nothing but businesses. At one time there were going to let a business go on the other side also for the fat farm, they were going to let it develop all the way down to the river. A lot of people were really upset about it; it didn’t go through because the money was not found in time enough to do it. There is getting to be more and more money out there and to me the flats were made for animals and I believe that is the way it should stay. That’s why I’m against any new development proposals.
Rich Zimmerman called Mike Vickers; Mike is a developer in Island Park. He began by stating, I was going to set back and let this happen because as a developer, we are at the corner there at the motel having a strip mall and having more development there that is a great deal for us. If this goes through then we can out there and purchase more ground go this process and end up with more commercial property out on the flats. It’s great for us, but it is not good for Island Park and so having looked at the whole situation and long-term affect. I have to make a stand, we as developers, there has to be a balance in Island Park, we need to go back and look at how fortunate we were to have this comprehensive plan put together a few years ago. If you look at Driggs and Teton County they have some major problems up there because they didn’t get ahead of the game and they are paying the price for it. We were fortunate enough to get ahead of the game and now we can’t back peddle and go back on what this plan means to us long term. I think we need to look at the full ramifications because it is not even just the flats, once you start changing and adding to this commercial node then we can go clear down to Pine haven wherever we elect along Highway 20 then we open a can of worms and if you didn’t turn that down, you surely can’t turn me down. So we need to think about he entire picture and also we all have concerns about surviving and making a living up there. We all need to play by the same rules and I guess my understanding is Mr. Wright had bought a piece of property in a commercial node in Last Chance where this other business could take place. I think that needs to be considered. As a developer, I want to say that we need to have a balance; we need to think of long-term not short term. We need to have a real defining message about this where there is not gray area or loopholes for other developers to come in and take advantage of this.
Rich Zimmerman asked if anyone else would like to speak, regarding the code amendment change. Shannon White-Yowell I own the property directly behind where the building used to be, where they are planning on building something else now. I am definitely in favor of them rebuilding and don’t have a problem with them running a real estate office. What I am very concerned with what it ends up being, I don’t want it to be a motel, I would like to see maybe not go completely commercial, maybe some conditional use permits, something like that.
Rich Zimmerman, asked Karen to read letters that were faxed to us regarding this code amendment change. See attached letters.
Rich then closed the public portion of the meeting. He then turned it over to the board for discussion. Deb Coleman stated she did not feel we should approve a commercial node anywhere on Henry’s Lake flats. That is not what the people up they’re wanted and it is not what our code calls for. Bill Butterfield asked if there was a possibility that the ownership in this property be traded for an area that is already zoned commercial. Bill stated it was apparent to him that people just don’t want this, that a pretty big thing to ask for that area. In another commercial node is there a possibility that it could be traded for an area where he could go ahead with the business he is proposing and not affect this? Rich stated he was sure there might someone who owns property in a commercial node that might want to trade for the flat area. There might be that option but that is something he would have to figure out. Rich said he knows there is a question about the comprehensive plan to eliminate the use permits. Karen stated that we use performance base standards and we do not issue conditional use permits. What this basically boils down to is, he has a grand fathered use, and that an extension of time was given due to the fact that when the building collapsed during the wintertime and it was in the process of going through bankruptcy. The attorneys contacted us asking for an extension as they were in the process of trying to clear the bankruptcy up and find a new owner for it. We allowed an additional allotment of time and the clock actually started clicking 3 or 4 months after it collapsed, the time has expired and by them coming in and applying for a building permit, that takes over where the 18 month extension of time ceased. They now have two summers to complete the building. Kerry Cottrell asked if this is summer one. Karen stated, yes they would have this summer and all of the following summer. Kerry asked if we deny this can they still rent snowmobiles from there and if we leave it the same, they are supposed to build the buildings exactly the way it was built. The mayor has asked about the option of having them build a more conventional if they choose to build it that way. Karen stated, they don’t have to build it back exactly the same and they don’t have to build it with metal materials, he has the right to choose what kinds of materials he wants to build it out of, when we met with he and his attorney we discussed that would be more aesthetic to the area, that is a major concern to them and they had proposed a building front that looks similar to Bear World Visitor’s Center, south of Rexburg. Linda Crapo, asked, if we should turn that down, they don’t have to build a building that big, they can build a building smaller to look like it would fit Island Park, it doesn’t have to be that big. Karen stated, they have that right in accordance to what our non-conformance use is, that they can build it back exactly the same size as what was there, but they can build it smaller, they can’t build it larger, but they can build it smaller. Rich asked, prior to Wright buying the property were there other potential buyers that come to the county? Karen stated, we did, I had telephone conversations with different people that talked of buying it and stated to them the same reasons that we explained to Kris and his attorney that it has a grand fathered use and they would have to go through the same process, if they want to do it, they would have to go through a commercial node change and ask for it to become a commercial property that could hold other businesses. Karen said she wanted to clarify, Norm stated that Grover Chatterton had called and stated that there were a lot of other types of businesses going on in that building. As far as zoning was concerned, they were not literally advertising with signs outside the building there wasn’t any real reason for us to research it, when they literally start advertising through newspapers, signs on the building or on front of the building, then we have to look at that as a major change.
Rich Zimmerman, then asked if there were any other questions? Kerry stated he doesn’t have a question, but stated, we have a very strict comprehensive plan, it is very simple, very forward, we have almost sacred obligations to protect the natural resources and natural beauty we have in Fremont County and this is an opportunity that this board sits to make those type of decisions. The flats are unique and they are beautiful, I personally feel by opening up this can of worms, like Mr. Vickers said, it would be a can of worms we would open if we allow this change. We have set plans, they knew when they bought it, what they were up against, we would be going against the comprehensive plan that everyone is aware of knows about the needs to live with.
Rich asked if there were any other comments. Then stated, we need to vote on this, we need a motion. Dirk made the motion to deny the code amendment change and Deb made the second motion. The vote passed 8 for denial and Mike Davis abstained due to his arriving to the meeting late.
Rich then called Mike Vickers, Final Plat Stonegate Phase V. Karen stated they have added another loop road in this phase and added 13 more lots because they are able to hook to community sewer they could go with ½ acre lots and they could have over 500 lots and so density does not come into play they can still meet our density requirements by adding the additional 13 lots. We just need to review and know that there is an additional new loop road versus the one loop road. The one road made it so they were long skinny lots and that is why we elected to do this and this pretty heavily treed in here so we thought they would create some nice square lots. We could have had 500 lots and we have ended up with 170 lots with most of the acreage in 1 to 5 acre parcels with only a few ½ acre lots. The committee discussed the plat maps, reviewed the wells and sewer information. Karen stated her only recommendation would be that certain lots have shared access that the are not each individually coming off a main road, Mike stated they would not access that road at all they would be using the subdivision roads. Karen asked Mike to please stipulate when the lots are sold that they can only access on the inside loop roads. Mike asked if that needed to be on the deeds in order to protect themselves and everyone involved. Karen stated the deeds would be the best place. Jerry Woods could not see any problems with the individual septic systems, he did note that in the future he expects regulations to change to shared wells, for example, 4 lots sharing one well each with water rights.
Rich Zimmerman asked if anyone had any more questions. He then asked if someone would make a motion. Mike Davis made a motion to accept the final plat; Bill Smith made the second motion. The motion passed unanimously.
Cancelled - Karen scheduled an on site inspection for the Circle O Trade Property on Tuesday, September 12th, meeting at the courthouse at 6:30 PM. This property sets next to the land application field and the board needs to look at it.
Connie Otteson made a motion to adjourn the meeting the second motion was made by Bill Smith. Meeting was adjourned at 8:45 pm.