Solid Waste; Public Hearings; Code amendment:conflicts of interest; proposed expansion of Victor impact area
New growth, new trash
As Teton County’s housing market continues to boom, construction and demolition (C&D) continues to play a large role in solid waste management. After the new C&D disposal pit was opened and then quickly closed due to improper dumping the county discussed solutions on Monday. Over 90 full roll off boxes were at the pit, most presumed to be improperly sorted and not allowed in the C&D pit.
The county will soon place an informational ad in the Teton Valley News describing what is allowed and what is not. Sean Perkins of Voorhees Sanitation presented to the commissioners alternatives to ensuring compliance: 1) commissioners could adopt an ordinance, specifically adopting their waste plan as an ordinance and, 2) adopting a fee schedule including a sorting fee. Commissioner Stevenson was concerned with Option 1 because any time the board made changes to the waste plan they would need to re-adopt the ordinance. Perkins stated that most contractors want to comply, but don’t know how. He also stated that Voorhees has a penalty fee of $2/minute for sorting or $120/hour, which may be too low because some contractors prefer to pay the penalty than sort their trash. John Pinardi of Teton Springs stated that if the fine is significant enough the private sector will figure out a way to deal with it.
Fees for Transfer Station
Eric Wachob of Nelson Engineering presented a summary of costs and a proposed fee schedule for the new transfer station including a comparable to other counties. In sum, the total cost to close the existing landfill and open the new transfer station is around $3.78 million; $1.1 million/year will be needed to operate the new transfer station; capital financing and depreciation costs are estimated at $246,700/year. Revenue would come from an additional $60.50 on municipal and C&D waste per ton tipping fee and a $105 per household annual fee. The fee structure is similar or slightly more expensive than other counties because of long hauls. Nolan Boyle of the Teton Valley Alliance expressed concern over the fees and rising costs of living, particularly for those on a fixed income. Commissioner Stevenson reiterated that the fee structure is user based and that those creating more waste will pay more.
Of the nine public hearings held, VARD commented on two. Three of the hearings related to zone changes from C2 (downtown commercial) to R3 (multi-family residential) around the old Ford Garage in the Valley Centre subdivision north of Driggs. VARD spoke in favor of zone changes during the Driggs meetings based on the belief that a downzone from C2 to R3 will make a more cohesive community in the Valley Centre subdivision and discourage commercial sprawl to the north.
Teton County Code Amendment on Conflicts of Interest
The proper identification and process for dealing with a conflict of interest in county government has been a VARD for years. The Board of County Commissioners presented an amendment to their current code providing more clarity to the process on how to deal with a conflict of interest, which is repetitive of the State Statue. Nolan Boyle of the Teton Valley Alliance spoke neutrally on the amendment stating that the TVA had concerns with any “potential” conflicts of interest and that many decision makers would not be able to participate in the process. VARD spoke favorably on the amendment but also strongly encouraged the Commissioners to sponsor a workshop for decision makers on proper identification of conflicts of interest and the process for addressing them, which would address the TVA’s concern on “potential” conflicts.
Proposed expansion of Victor Impact Area
The commissioners’ quarters had standing room only when the proposed Victor Impact Area expansion and re-adoption of the Impact Area Agreement was presented to the county commissioners on Monday. VARD has been opposed to the impact area expansion and has submitted verbal and written comments to the city and county.
County Planning Administrator Kurt Hibbert described re-adoption of the proposed Impact Area Agreement, which described how applications would be processed in the impact area. The impact area is under county jurisdiction but the county would look at the Victor Comprehensive Plan and ordinances when making land-use decision in the impact area. The Victor P&Z would be the recommending board to the county commissioners. Few spoke to the Impact Area Agreement.
City of Victor perspective
Victor’s Mayor Don Thompson presented the expansion to the commissioners stating that Victor’s request was based on growth in the impact area such as Teton Springs and annexation requests that appear to have the city growing around the county. Mayor Thompson stated that the city felt significant responsibility for building infrastructure such as an expansion to the sewer, which has mainly been developer driven. Thompson also identified areas in Victor that slope toward the sewer line and should be hooked in. Planning Administrator Cari Golden mentioned the importance of connecting existing transportation and that the current city/county decisions to connect roads was not working. City Council Member David Kearsley spoke on the Trans Agricultural areas of Victor where the city has proposed densities from 5-20 acres. The proposed density in the impact area is still being discussed.
Of the full room, none spoke in favor of the expansion. Arnold Woolstenhulme, a resident of the area of impact, spoke neutrally because he had to leave the meeting. One of his main concerns that was reiterated by others was the concern that residents in the area of impact are not properly represented by the city.
VARD, the Teton Valley Alliance, Teton Springs, Victor area farmers, and impact area landowners spoke in opposition to the expansion. There were many concerns including: identifying a reasonable timeframe for annexation to better define the impact area; susceptibility of Victor to sprawl; which jurisdiction – the county or the city- was better able to plan the rural parts of the county; viability and preservation of existing agricultural land when the city encroaches; how an expansion would effect the county’s density rings, specifically the urban service ring that surrounds the city; the push to grow based on sewer expansions; and questioning Victor’s ability to service the area.
One of the prominent themes in the public comment was that Victor had good intentions with their desire to expand their impact area but that the county’s densities and development patterns were having negative effects on the city. John Pinardi, speaking on behalf of Teton Springs and as a county resident, poignantly stated, “Developers are used to hearing no. They want clear guidelines; they want to know that the public sector has a handle on things. The rules are like moving goal posts; it seem like we are making it up as we go along.”
P&Z Commissions to resolve the issue
Chairman Young was hesitant in voting on the matter without Commissioner Trupp, who has the most experience on the Board. Commissioner Stevenson stated that she was concerned with the expansion of the impact area and the effects it would have on the county zoning as all the density rings around the city would have to shift according to the county comprehensive plan. Chairman Young stated that the county densities did not take into account the city’s desires and intentions and that better communication and planning needs to take place between the cities and county. The board voted to have the two P&Z commissions – Victor and Teton County – meet to resolve the issues over the impact area. Idaho Code allows for this method of finding a solution.
Victor decision makers had concerns about the timeframe for resolution. Chairman Young stated, “I understand urgency, look at the landfill. Part of the reason we are always in the a state of urgency is that we never take the time to get it right the first time around.” He also stated that without first allowing the P&Zs the opportunity to try and resolve the issue the impact area expansion would be denied.