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Solid Waste update; Bitch Creek Access; Morris Crossing; Reserve at Badger Creek approved; Next steps on the PUD ordinance; Housing Authority Board appointments

Solid Waste
Jeff Snyder of Nelson Engineering informed the commissioners that they may be over budget by $150K due to some of his recommendations, if accepted. Chairman Young directed Snyder to generate a bottom line number incorporating all the changes.  

Road and Bridge
Bitch Creek Access
Garth Talyor from Idaho Parks and Recreation presented an update on the rails to trails pathway improvements along the old rail line from Tetonia to Ashton. Taylor described the $1.4 million in funding for the trail improvements as state and federal money earmarked for non-motorized trails. Work on the trail can be expected to begin spring '08.

Commissioner Trupp drilled Talyor as to why the gates on the Bitch Creek rail bridge are so far from the bridge itself. Taylor indicated that unlike the bridges at Conant and Fall River, the Bitch Creek Bridge receives a lot of misuse – from rowdy parties to bungee jumping -and the closure is for safety reasons. Trupp continued to press Taylor on why only Bitch was closed and that it appeared that Teton residents were being unfairly shut out of public access by the state. Taylor stated he put the gate up after he saw a 4-wheeler hanging from one of the trestles.

Taylor, in response to a question by Commissioner Stevenson, said that Parks and Recreation would welcome any donation of access to public lands in regard to the Morris Crossing access debate.

Morris Crossing
BC Ranch, a private development group, is appealing the county road access to Bitch Creek commonly known as Morris Crossing, due to lack of county maintenance. Attorney Sean Moulton, representing BC Ranch, stated that the appeal has not been withdrawn and that they are requesting mediation. Later in the day the commissioners directed county attorney, Bart Birch, to engage in mediation. Gaither Campbell of Friends of Morris Crossing submitted comments to the BOCC with draft language for a county decision to keep the Morris Crossing public access open. G. Ricks also spoke in regard to Morris Crossing stating he has seen too many traditional accesses closed recently.

The accesses to Bitch Creek, a popular fishing area, are problematic. One access, at the trestle bridge, has illegal motorized use and the other, Morris Crossing, has trespassing issues.

Planning and Building
Reserve at Badger Creek Approved
The Reserve at Badger Creek was approved after much discussion and debate between Commissioners Stevenson and Trupp. Chairman Young recused himself from the deliberation and decision-making because he had been involved as a P&Z member on the application prior to his service as a county commissioner.

In August the BOCC had tabled the final approval of the Reserve at Badger Creek until they received an approval letter from the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR) to fill a fire pond with water rights, there was a deed restriction to protect the wildlife corridor, and the recommendations of Idaho Fish and Game were included in the Development Agreement.

Commissioner Stevenson agreed that two of the three conditions for approval were met but had concerns about the approval from IDWR. The letter submitted by the applicant from IDWR was clearly not an approval of transfer of water use but rather a letter stating that water rights could be used to fill the pond.  The applicant made the case, with help from a water rights consultant, that IDWR never gives a letter of approval for transfer of water use and this was as close as the developer could come to meeting the conditions. Additionally, County Planning Administrator Hibbert indicated that the code is not explicit about how ponds should be filled and that even if a transfer of water use were not obtained an applicant could fill the pond by other means.  Basically, the issues of water rights, transfer of use and how they pertain to fire ponds are complicated and even the regulating agency itself could not provide a clear cut answer.

Commissioner Stevenson was still concerned that the conditions for approval had not been met and wanted documented assurances that the fire pond would be filled. Hibbert indicated at that point that if the developer did not fill the fire pond that most likely individual lot owners in the development would sue the developer. VARD does not believe that the fact that property owners could take legal action removes the responsibility from the county to ensure developers adequately provide fire protection.  Rather it would be an indictment of the county failing to do its job. Commissioner Trupp asked if the county could issue building permits but withhold issuing occupancy permit until the ponds were filled, essentially leaving lot owners at the whim of the developer fulfilling his/her obligations. Hibbert said the county has done that before. Eventually the Reserve at Badger Creek was passed with Stevenson maintaining concern over approving applications when issues are still pending.

Next Steps on the PUD ordinance
In a memo from Clarion Associates, the county's commissioned planning firm, they recommended that a 15-member working group be appointed to begin work on the PUD ordinance.  Members of that group included the: BOCC, P&Z and representation from VARD, Teton Valley Alliance, real estate, agriculture, habitat protection, scenic view protection, water quality and controlling costs of services. Click here to read the memo from Clarion

Commissioner Stevenson expressed concern with this outline in that the common working class or small business interest was not represented and that the current P&Z is somewhat slanted toward the development community.  She also questioned the characteristics of the agricultural representation if it was an individual who desired to stay in agriculture or shifting to development. Commissioner Trupp and Nolan Boyle, Executive Director of the Teton Valley Alliance, adamantly supported the current makeup of the P&Z, even though the record shows there is an apparent bias (see P&Z update from Sept. 11, '07).

Housing Authority Appointed
The seven members of the new Housing Authority include: Doug Peterson, Sarah Dunn, Valoie Wells, Diane Temple, Stacy Simonet, Gaither Campbell and Kathy Rinaldi

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