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Zoning reversal for the Burns Concrete batch plant tower

Decision Makers: Driggs P&Z and City Council

Topic: Zoning reversal for the Burns Concrete batch plant tower

April 4, 2012

Dear Driggs Planning & Zoning Commission and City Council:

I am writing this email without the benefit of seeing the request letter that has been put forth by the County Prosecutor, but I did discuss this application with Doug Self, and wanted to get my letter of support in before today’s deadline.

It’s not often that a land use issue like the Burns batch tower is so prominently positioned in our community. Visible for miles around, everyone seems to have made passing observations about that tower. As the program director for VARD, I have found that the Burns tower, in all of its prominence, has really become a monument to why land use planning is so important for preserving scenic vistas. Often, I am asked questions about the futility of upholding scenic corridor regulations when that tower was already approved out there for all to see. I try to remind these folks that the tower is being litigated in court, and it is actually located outside of the 330-foot scenic corridor (which usually prompts a response that the scenic corridor should be expanded if a tower of that size can be built in such a prominent location.)

It is equally rare that a small rural county is able to uphold its land use regulations in the face of threatened litigation from corporate interests, then fight a 5-year court battle, and ultimately win such a commanding, unanimous victory from the Idaho Supreme Court in less than 2 weeks time from oral argument.  This is truly an exceptional accomplishment. Lending further credibility to this victory was the fact that the Supreme Court awarded Teton County its court costs.

Please recommend approval of this zoning reversion so this 5-year chapter can now be closed. The Burns development agreement expressly states that the manufacturing zoning may be revoked by Teton County. As for the temporary tower that exists there today, the development agreement allowed the temporary structure so long as the court battle dragged on. That hard-fought battle is now over, and Teton County has unanimously prevailed.  It’s time to take the tower down.  



Anna Trentadue

VARD Program Director / Staff Attorney


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