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Learning Academy CUP approved; Milk Creek Road vacation continued

Learning Academy CUP approved with conditions
This was a final hearing for a conditional use permit (CUP) for the Learning Academy to operate a preK-12 private school on a 7.4-acre lot in Teton Saddleback Vistas, located at 400S and Highway 33. The school would house up to 100 students and approximately 20 teachers and staff. At the previous P&Z hearing, a traffic study was recommended for this proposal.

Several residents spoke in favor of the CUP, and one letter in opposition was received. VARD spoke neutrally about the project, complimenting the proposed design and concept for the school, but noting that the traffic study was still outstanding and the water rights issues need to be resolved.

The BOCC unanimously approved the CUP, subject to several conditions such as (1) this permit is limited to 120 students, (2) only one access point is permitted, (3) a traffic study must be done, and (4) the water issues must be resolved.

Milk Creek Road vacation continued
This was a proposal to vacate Milk Creek Road, a county road located out in the rural north end of the valley, along the west side of River Rim Ranch and Ridgeline Ranch. The road currently runs through the most environmentally sensitive part of the Grandview Ranch property and is used by the public to access the National Forest. Responding to public concern about losing the forest access, the developer proposed to donate a 3-acre parking lot for public access to the national forest to the west. However, the proposed parking lot would still be two miles from the forest service boundary.

In December, P&Z recommended approval of this vacation subject to several conditions designed to ensure that there is a dedicated public access to the forest which will be maintained year-round.

VARD spoke in favor of this application but emphasized that there is an element of risk in losing a county road, and the vacation should not be granted until several outstanding conditions are resolved. More specifically, there needs to be a guaranteed useable public access to the forest that is maintained year-round as well protections in place to prevent destructive development of the Milk Creek Road corridor in the future.

Rob Cavallaro from Idaho Fish & Game and Jay Pence from the US Forest Service spoke neutrally about the proposal, but listed several concerns that would need to be addressed before the road is vacated. Bob Hansen spoke on behalf of the local snowmobile district about the importance of winter maintenance in order to access the proposed public parking lot. Several residents spoke in opposition to the proposal.

In deliberations, the BOCC stated the need for a more detailed proposal from the applicant before they could make a decision about vacating Milk Creek Road. The BOCC unanimously voted to continue this hearing, asking the applicant to come back with proposals for how they would guarantee (1) a maintained public parking lot with a bathroom that is close to the forest service boundary, (2) year-round maintenance to ensure access to the parking lot, and (3) wildlife protections to prevent future development of the road corridor.

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