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Victor Mountain Retreat annexation and zone change; other final plat approvals; speed limit lowered; national flood insurance program; mayor tie-breaker vote on sewer will-serve letter

Victor Mountain Retreat annexation and zone change approved
The Driggs City Council approved a request for annexation and zone change to high-density residential (R-3) on 20 acres in the Valley Centre subdivision.  Travis Thompson asked for the annexation and zone change for this project, Victor Mountain Retreat, several months ago, but the request was continued several times while the city awaited more information about the water source on the property.  At previous meetings, city council members expressed an interest in ensuring annexed properties add to the city’s water supply in some form, which is now the case with this piece of property.

Travis Thompson plans to split the property and sell it to two developers.  In essence, this annexation and zone change facilitates efforts to sell the property.  Although the city’s preferred land use map shows a preference for this area becoming mixed use, the mixed use zone has not yet been adopted by the city.  City council hopes to work with the future landowners to change the zoning from R-3 to the future mixed use zoning.

Other final plat approvals
In addition, the City Council approved the final plat for three other developments including: Redtail, a development of 53 lots on 105 acres along Teton Creek; Buffalo Valley Townhomes, a 48-unit development on the north end of the Valley Centre subdivision; and Buffalo Junction Phase II, a 20-unit condominium development on the south end of Valley Centre.  The city hopes to work with developers to ensure the pathways in the Valley Centre subdivision connect to each other and those in the Huntsman Springs PUD, in order to provide connectivity into the city. 

Speed limit lowered
The city council approved a resolution to expand the 25-mph speed limit on both the north and south ends of town on Main Street, as well as expand the 45-mph zone at the north end of town to encompass the city limits.  The city hopes this change will improve the safety for both drivers and pedestrians in town.  Main Street is a state highway, and there has been some confusion in the past about whether cities have jurisdiction over the speed limit on state highways in their city limits.  Discussions with the Idaho Department of Transportation revealed that cities do indeed have jurisdiction over all speed limits within their boundaries. 

Driggs to join National Flood Insurance Program
The city passed a resolution required by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.  Participation will provide city landowners with access to federally-backed flood insurance.

Mayor breaks tie vote on will-serve letter for sewer services    
Mayor Lou Christianson broke a tie vote to provide a sewer will-serve letter to the developers of a 55-unit industrial park on the east side of Teton Creek, setting a precedent to provide sewer to land outside the city’s impact area.  The industrial park received approval for an M-1 zone change from the county P&Z at the concept phase and is still a long way from final approval.

Council members Jeanne Marie Callahan and Dan Powers expressed concern about sending the will-serve letter.  Callahan was concerned about the precedent set by providing such a letter and whether the city has the capacity to provide sewer services outside the city limits.  The final sewer study estimates there are 1000 connections available for both Driggs and Victor.  The city has pre-sold connections for 273 units. 

There is no fixed process for determining how connections are allocated and Mayor Christiansen has said that he believes based on the volume of sewer flows that the city could provide more than 1000 hook ups because of many lots not being built upon immediately and many hook ups going to second homes that do not produce waste for much of the year.  VARD has argued at both the city and county level that government should not promise services based on the expectation that they won’t have to provide them.  

Powers asked if the city should not wait until they had adopted the final sewer study (which it did later in the meeting) and had time to digest the findings.  He also commented that the city’s sewer services should not be ahead of planning growth.  Instead, the city and county comp plans should dictate where growth should be concentrated and the sewer should follow to those areas.  Both council members hoped to table the item until their next meeting in two weeks so that they could consider all the ramifications, as the city attorney suggested.  Although the applicant stated that waiting two weeks wouldn’t hurt them, council member George Mosher made the motion to provide the will-serve letter.  His reasoning was that by providing the sewer to these areas the city could prevent contamination of the city’s water supply.  Greer Jones seconded the motion.  The vote was 2-2 with Jones and Mosher voting in favor and Callahan and Powers voting against, at which point the Mayor cast the tie breaker vote in favor of providing the will-serve letter. 

City accepts sewer study
After approving the will-serve letter, the city council passed a motion to accept the findings in the Final Sewer Study completed by Nelson Engineering.

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