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Two public hearings were held during the June 15 meeting of the Salmon City Council. The first had to do with obtaining Judicial Confirmation for the plan to upgrade the city’s sewer treatment system and the second had to do with a mobile food unit Conditional Use Permit request.

The first hearing was to consider adopting a resolution authorizing the filing of a petition for Judicial Confirmation. The petition would be related to the city’s authority to enter into a loan agreement between the city and the state through the auspices of the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). The petition would also have to prove the validity of the need for such an agreement.

Jim Mullen of Keller and Associates presented an overview of the city’s proposed plan to upgrade its waste water treatment system in order to bring it into compliance with currently mandated federal standards. The city has been in violation of the most recently elevated Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards for quite some time and would be subject to fines if non-compliance conditions were allowed to continue.

Mullen said that the firm has been working with the city for several years, determining the best way to achieve the desired results. A Keller study identified what areas of the treatment system needed to be improved in order to obtain a discharge permit and the best way to make those improvements. He said the plan Keller and Associates developed has been approved by the DEQ. Mullen said the purpose of the Judicial Confirmation process is to allow the city to take out a loan to pay for the required improvements.

The improvements include a headworks screening facility and a filtration facility. The goal is to improve the quality of discharge into the Salmon River and Mullen said that according to a pilot study on the recommended filtration system, that system would bring the plant’s effluent discharges up to required EPA standards.

Mullen said the DEQ has offered the city a loan of approximately $3.5 million. Just over $3 million will be at zero percent interest for the 20 year payback period.

City Attorney John McKinney explained that Judicial Confirmation is a state statute method for a city to obtain a large loan to be used for ‘regular course of business’ needs such as water plant maintenance, street repair, sewer system maintenance or other such things that cities are required to do. No public vote is needed to initiate the process.

Because the city is mandated to meet federal sewer treatment standards McKinney said the issue is one of ‘regular business.’ Ignoring the mandates would result in what McKinney called massive fines and he said he knows of some cities that have had to pay those threatened fines.

A specialized attorney is needed to prepare affidavits and evidence for the Judicial Confirmation court proceedings. Attorney Dale Storer with the Idaho Falls firm of Holden, Kidwell, Hahn and Crapo has been hired by the city. McKinney said he believes the Judicial Confirmation process is something the city has to do now, to stay within the law.

No public comments were offered and the public hearing was closed.

The second public hearing concerned the question of granting a Conditional Use Permit to Leonel Brambila of Aberdeen, Idaho for a mobile, Mexican cuisine restaurant. The facility would be located at 317 Riverfront Drive.

The subject brought many questions, comments and explanations. Evan Wride spoke on behalf of the applicant and outlined the arrangements for water, sewer and parking. He said that basically the mobile restaurant owner is amenable to doing whatever the city wants him to do.

There is nothing in city codes to address mobile food facilities. City Code Compliance Officer Dan Maiyo presented the specifics of Brambila’s request and said that the City Planning and Zoning Commission found the application did meet the Salmon Comprehensive Plan’s public health and safety criteria. The commission recommended that if this mobile food facility is approved for a Conditional Use Permit, some further conditions related to public health and safety should be added.

Wride said Brambila has permanent restaurant facilities in Aberdeen, American Falls, Montpelier and Preston. He said those areas were first market-tested with mobile facilities to determine the economic feasibility of establishing a permanent facility. He also said this facility would be year around not just seasonal. Wride said the applicant is agreeable with everything that has been requested of him.

One member of the public opposed granting the permit and another had submitted written comments in support of it.

After the hearing ended Councilman Jim Baker made a motion to postpone a decision until the council’s July 6 meeting and it passed on a vote of five in favor and one, Councilman Bud Bartlett, opposed.

By law the council has 35 days to consider the Conditional Use Permit request.

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