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The August 7 meeting of the Salmon City Council quickly moved into a Public Comment period for the numerous residents in attendance who wished to make statements regarding the type of housing allowances included in the newly drafted Salmon Development Code.

According to City Planning and Zoning Administrator Dan Maiyo, under the 1992 Development Code duplexes were allowed in areas zoned as Low Density Residential (LDR) and the newly proposed Salmon Development Code continues to allow duplexes in LDR zoned areas. Residents are requesting that that allowance be removed.

Council President Jim Baker opened the comment period with an explanation of the process involved in making changes to the Development Code. He said the City Planning and Zoning Commission has worked extensively on the revisions for two years. He said a public hearing has been held and that the P& Z is now in the process of deliberating on its recommendation to the City Council. Baker stated the City Council has not received any recommendations from the commission. He said when the council receives the recommendations it will decide whether or not to hold a public hearing. Due to the interest being generated by the proposed code Baker felt a public hearing will probably be held and at that point public statements would become part of the official record. He said any opinions expressed in the upcoming Public Comment period are simply comments.

By rules of procedure the council is directed to listen but not respond to comments made during a Public Comment period.

The very mention that the council had not received a recommendation from the P&Z brought about some confusion on the part of two speakers. Lorraine Hand quoted July 9 P&Z meeting minutes which indicate a motion was made and passed to present the new Development Code at that August 7th meeting of the Salmon City Council. She said it is her understanding it was placed on that evening’s council agenda and then removed. Hand said hearing the document is back under P&Z deliberation is very confusing for folks trying to keep up with what’s going on.

Hand also advised the council of some potential new residents who are reconsidering a move to Salmon after reading letter to the editor accounts of this zoning issue and allegations that officials are not listening to the people. She reminded the council that with a local newspaper which has subscribers all over the country, Salmon is not in a vacuum.

Greg Farmer Lowell is a P&Z Commissioner as well as a resident and he shared Hand’s confusion over Baker’s opening remarks referring to further P&Z deliberations. He also quoted from the July 9 P&Z meeting minutes which included a roll call vote to approve the language in the Development Code and quoted the Planning and Zoning Commission as recommending that the Salmon City Council approve the Development Code and new Zoning Map. He said a motion was made and passed to present the code and map to the Salmon City Council. Lowell said he was very confused and concerned that based on Baker’s statements, the document’s situation is now entirely different than it was at the end of the last Planning and Zoning meeting.

Gary Leuzinger, a Smedley Subdivision resident, encouraged the city to accept public input from impact zone residents where annexation into the city is inevitable at some point. He said at present there is only single family housing in that area and they would like to do what they can to preserve their neighborhood’s character. He said under the new Development Code duplexes are allowed, which does not preserve that character. Leuzinger said the same is true for some other areas of the city. For the sake of protecting property values he suggested the current LDR be broken into two or more zones; one with duplexes and at least one zone for single family homes where perspective homeowners could buy a house without fear of a duplex being built in front of it or next to it.

Jim Sustaire said he would like to see the Development Code sent back to the P&Z so that a requirement for public notification of proposed Public Purpose projects on city owned property can be added. In addition, Sustaire would like to see the existing duplexes grandfathered but any future development of duplexes or multi-unit structures banned in LDR areas.

Jesse Farmer Lowell said what bothers her the most is the necessity to be constant ‘watch dogs’ in order to keep up with what is going on. She said at one of the Planning and Zoning meetings they were told by professional planner Teri Ottens that the word ‘duplexes’ was being removed from the Development Code, but that didn’t happen. Lowell said such instances require being more than just aware, they require being a watchdog at every meeting to make sure you are being properly and honestly represented and that public opinion is being heard and followed. If it is not, explanations as to why not are needed but those explanations have not been offered.

‘Public Purpose,’ other than instances of not needing public permission to build a restroom on city land, is another subject with which she took issue. Lowell said the document leaves it up to the city to decide if a public project is important enough to bring before the public. She said that is a huge loop hole. It was her opinion that taxpayers have the right to a much bigger say in how large amounts of monies are spent, just as people outside city limits but in the city/county impact zone have a right to voice preferences for the direction of future development decisions that will affect their neighborhoods.

She spoke of her intention to get people passionately involved in their right to tell the city what the voters want.

Tommy Joe Walrath quoted Thomas Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence view about the role of government and Jefferson saying when any form of government becomes destructive it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it and create new guards for their future security. He told council members they were elected to represent the people of Salmon and it is not the responsibility of the people to see the council does its job. He added the council dropped the ball on no Fourth of July Fireworks display.

David Tomlinson had questions about the process involved in the council’s adoption of the city’s Development Code.

In concluding remarks Mayor Leo Marshall invited those with questions to speak to him or to any member of the City Council. He also said that a comment letter received from Marsha White will be included in any future formal City Council hearing on the Code.

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