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Highlights from June 22 Board of County Commissioners Meeting: Courthouse exterior to be completed, County road maintenance complaints and policy, Teton Creek LOMR approved, Subdivision extension requests

Highlights from the BOCC June 22 Work Meeting

Courthouse exterior to be completed
The county has a new Charitable Pledge Agreement for the completion of work on the new courthouse, which has been constructed in part through a charitable donation from Huntsman Springs.    The good news is that the new agreement allows for the exterior work on the courthouse to be completed as well as the interior. The lack of resources to complete the parking and landscaping for the project has been a sore spot for the county over the last year.   

At Monday's meeting County Clerk Mary Lou Hansen said that Friday, October 2nd should be the last day in the old courthouse, with the new courthouse opening for business on Monday, October 5th.

County road maintenance complaints
The commissioners discussed with County Engineer Lou Simonet the ongoing complaints about the condition of 2000 W, the road that heads south off of Highway 31, across from the Victor Vet.   This road is not on the county's list of priority roads for maintenance this year, though that could change with the results from vehicle counts going on right now. Roads will be prioritized according to the highest numbers of vehicle trips.  Commissioner Rinaldi emphasized that she supports an objective system for prioritizing road maintenance and not merely responding to the most number of complaints.  

Commissioner Benedict commented that 2000 W was another example of where roads had not kept up with developments approved.

Snow plowing criteria
Lou Simonet presented the Fremont County Snow Plowing Criteria checklist as a model for establishing a snow plowing policy in Teton County.   Kathy Rinaldi reiterated her support for a system for road maintenance that uses objective criteria.  The Fremont system ranks roads according to a number of factors including: number of homes on the road, proximity to other plowed roads, number of school children living on the road, room for snow storage along the road and the type of terrain.   Commissioner Rinaldi said she would like to see how the roads currently plowed by the county stand up to the proposed criteria.  

Commissioner Benedict suggested that since money for plowing comes from vehicle registrations, that people who don't have their vehicles registered in Teton County, Idaho shouldn't be able to count as year-round residents for plowing purposes.

Teton Creek LOMR (Letter of Map Revision) approved by FEMA
The county has received notification that their revised mapping of the Teton Creek floodway and floodplain has been approved.  There are still 6 units in the Aspen Pointe subdivision that are in the floodway and therefore cannot be issued occupancy permits.   However the county is scheduled to install a new bridge over Teton Creek right next to Aspen Pointe that will ease the constriction that is occurring at the current bridge. The county is sending letters to the owners of the 6 units letting them know that once the county installs the bridge they can apply for a new LOMR, which will hopefully show them in the clear.

Renee Lusser, owner of one of the units in question, came before the BoCC to express his frustration with how long and convoluted the FEMA process to approve the new LOMR has been.   Part of his frustration stems from the fact that years ago the county approved his and other lots, which have been uninsurable due to the LOMR debacle.  Commissioner Young said that this was part of the risk of building in a creek bottom. Commissioner Rinaldi acknowledged how frustrating it has been for the lot owners and said that she wanted to assure him that the Board was doing everything they could to fix a mess that they had inherited. She also said that they were working to put in place policies and procedures that would ensure that situations like this did not happen in the future.  

Sub-division applications expiring
Planning Administrator Patrick Vaile reported that in the last two months 13 sub-divisions, comprised of 1501 unites, had either expired or withdrawn their applications.    There are now 4,700 pending lots going through the county approvals process.  He said that the planning staff was keeping track of development applications nearing their expiration dates and contacting developers to get in writing application withdrawals.   

Criteria for development extension agreements
The county is receiving development agreement extension requests from many developments approved in the last few years.  Basically, developers are requesting more time to finish their projects.    The board discussed criteria for determining which development extension requests to grant.  They were in agreement that development agreement extension should be granted because “unique and extraordinary” circumstances prevented completion, not because of poor planning on the developer's part.   Administrator Vaile presented a development extension application to be adopted with the criteria.

Huntsman Springs extension request
Huntsman Springs submitted a Development Agreement Extension Application requesting more time to complete some aspects of their project.  They cited the complications of dealing with two jurisdictions (part of the development is in the City of Driggs and part of it in the county) as well as the fact that they had to lay several miles of underground power lines, which the power company had never done before, and therefore it took longer than expected.  

Commissioner Rinaldi raised the importance of requiring detailed construction mitigation with any extension, saying, “we have learned a lot” since the initial agreement.  She said she wanted to review the language particularly on hours of operation, construction vehicle traffic on Little Avenue and Main Street, as well as dust mitigation and stabilization of disturbed ground.  

The Huntsman Springs representative explained that the reason 6 million cubic yards of grading was done all at once was because they were trying to complete the golf course but that going forward disturbance should be more incremental and proportional to the phases of the development under construction.   He did admit, “We have some catching up to do,” in terms of stabilizing disturbed ground.

Commissioner Rinaldi said she appreciated his reassurance but that she wanted to see it in writing so that in two to three years future decision makers would know exactly what was agreed upon.

Spring Hollow extension request

The board agreed that Spring Hollow should complete a Development Agreement Extension Application, which the board would review with the development agreement.

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