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P&Z sets schedule for review of Mahogany Ridge; MD Nursery found to be out of compliance with their conditional use permit; Ridgeline Ranch not heard

Summary of July 8th, 2008 P&Z Hearing

P&Z sets schedule for review of  Mahogany Ridge
In order to have an opportunity to correct and clarify his file, developer Travis Thompson wrote a letter to the P&Z commission requesting that his application be pulled from the July hearing schedule. Instead of a hearing, the commission allowed Mr. Thompson to give a brief summary of his project. Then they set a schedule for how Mahogany Ridge will be reviewed:

•    PLEASE NOTE: At the very first Mahogany Ridge hearing on August 12th, the first item on the agenda will be to allow the public to give general comments on this development. This will give the public the opportunity to share their thoughts/concerns with the development at the outset of the hearing process. This is a great opportunity for those who live out of state or who do not want to attend every meeting to give your comments.
•    Thereafter, the preliminary plat hearings will be broken up by topic. The developer will present information on Mahogany Ridge for that particular topic, and then there will be the opportunity for public and agency commentary on that issue.
•    The tentative order in which topics will be considered is as follows: road alignment, traffic impacts, natural resources, water issues, economic impacts, density, lot arrangement / open space, phasing plans, incidental uses (commercial), mitigations, CCRs, and the development agreement.
•    At every monthly P&Z hearing meeting, Mahogany Ridge will be the first item on the hearing schedule from 4:30-7:30. The commission will work its way through all of the individual topics one by one. Once it is 7:30, they will move on to other developments on the hearing schedule. If there are no other items on the hearing schedule, they will continue to hear Mahogany Ridge for a few more hours that night.
•    Because of the size of this development, VARD anticipates that realistically, only a few topics will be covered at each 4:30-7:30 hearing. Moreover, some topics are so large that they may take up an entire hearing. So you can expect that there will be several hearings. The schedule for the first four hearings is as follows: August 12th, September 9th, October 14th, and November 11th.
•    You can continue to submit comment letters to the county throughout the entire hearing process. You do not have to submit all of your comments in advance of the first hearing on August 12th. However, it is probably beneficial to submit your general comments for this hearing. If you have particular concerns (such as wildlife impacts or housing density), you may want to address those in a letter submitted before the hearings when these topics will be individually addressed.

VARD commends the P&Z and Travis Thompson for establishing a predictable hearing schedule, which will facilitate a thorough review of this PUD.

MD Nursery found to be out of compliance with their conditional use permit

The commission conducted a review of the MD Nursery’s conditional use permit (CUP) to run a “garden store/nursery.”  The conditions in the permit clearly state that this CUP is only for a “garden store/nursery” and that no additional uses would be allowed.  The commission voted 5-2 that MD was out of compliance and needed to submit an amended CUP application.

MD is now required to submit an amended application elaborating on all of the uses at their store and all intended future uses. The intent is to set clear boundaries for this permit. As Commissioner Heileson put it, when this permit was originally approved in 2005, no one envisioned that MD would expand to the large facility and café that is there today. VARD commends this approach because the county needs to set a precedent for what uses will be allowed along our scenic corridor and rural highways.

Looking to the future, the lesson from the MD situation is that the county would benefit by hiring an enforcement officer to oversee permit compliance.  Effective enforcement of P&Z regulations and conditions would streamline the administrative process and allow permit holders to be confident that they will not disadvantaged if they follow the rules.  

Ridgeline Ranch was not heard

This PUD was added to the hearing schedule at the last minute, and VARD voiced concern over not even being able to get copies of the hearing materials to provide commentary. We also commented that Idaho and county law require that the public have notice and the opportunity for meaningful commentary when new, substantive information is going to be discussed (as opposed to continuation of deliberation on information that the public has already commented on) .

The P&Z commission unanimously decided not to receive new information into the record until the commissioners and the public had an opportunity to review the fiscal impact study recently submitted by the developer. (The decision was unanimous, but Commissioner Nickell recused herself from this vote).  The commission made the right decision and in doing so reaffirmed the importance of adequate notice and public input on land use decisions. 

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