CITY DIVES INTO CODE DEBATE
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COUNCIL BEGINS DEVELOPMENT CODE DISCUSSIONS 10-16-13 LMS

The Salmon City Council has officially begun deliberations on the first of several issues that arose as a result of a public hearing on the proposed City Development Code document.

At its October 16 meeting the first item addressed concerned changes that would make the proposed code supersede all prior property related agreements. The topic quickly moved to unanimous approval of a motion by Councilman Fred Waidely to delete the word ‘supersede’ and reinstate wording from the 1992 Development Code which reads, “This code does not nullify easements, covenants, deed restrictions and similar private agreements or any such private agreement that imposes standards that are less restrictive than those of this code. This code shall govern.”

During discussion prior to the vote City Attorney Fred Snook commented that the old code makes sense and has worked for 20 years. He added a doubt that the proposed code is even legal.

The council’s discussion on including residents of the city/county impact zone on the Planning and Zoning Commission evolved into many issues of existing ordinances and city/county impact zone agreements and ultimately under which of three state law categories this city falls. Defining the category would indicate how many impact area residents must be on the commission. Another issue to settle is whether or not any impact area members are required under state law since there is a joint city/county agreement in existence as well as a city/county P&Z Commission that can be activated when needed. Attorney Snook will research the legalities and have a report by the next meeting.

In the meantime a motion first made by Councilman Jesse Bender was amended by Waidely to take the word ‘may’ completely out of the proposed Development Code in reference to impact area P&Z membership and change a city ordinance that reads P&Z membership ‘may’ include residents from the city/county impact area to read, ‘shall include.’ The 1992 Development Code says ‘shall,’ the proposed code reads ‘may’ and a city ordinance is written as ‘may’. The motion to amend the city ordinance to read ‘shall’ was passed unanimously. An official ordinance amendment, three reading process will be needed to make that change.

The Planning and Zoning Commission is set up for up to nine members. There are currently four vacancies which means openings for at least three new members. Once it is decided how many appointees should be from the impact area, a list of possible volunteers will be presented for council consideration.

Councilman Jim Baker added a motion to include the number of impact area residents on the P&Z board will be in proportion to the city’s population, as per state law. The motion passed unanimously.

The 1992 Salmon Development Code said nothing about Public Purpose lands. The proposed development code included such a designation and stated that changes on those lands could be made without public hearings. No opportunity for public hearings drew many protests and petitions.

The council’s discussion of Public Purpose lands began with a motion by Councilman Jim Kluesner to delete all mention of Public Purpose from the Development Code proposal. Bender said she liked the designation theory but not the definition and suggested a way be found to keep the title while fixing the resulting issues. Waidely said Island Park is currently zoned as commercial. He said lands on the zoning map that are proposed as Public Purpose include Island Park, the Hockey Rink, District Seven Health Clinic, the wastewater treatment facility, the Courthouse and Brooklyn Annex, the Search and Rescue building, City Park, Town Square Park, City Hall, Forest Service buildings the Golf Course and the Sacajawea Center. He said they are currently zoned many ways yet each has a distinct purpose which is, to serve the people and the government. He quoted Chapter 24 of the code as listing what is allowed under the Public Purpose designation. He said very few things are actually permitted for anything other than what is needed for local government operations such as radio towers for the sheriff and police department. He also pointed out there is a process included in the code by which public hearings can be requested.

Councilman Ken Hill said the Public Purpose designation is actually more restrictive than present codes and Baker said he favors the designation but wants language inserted that would make public hearings mandatory before any changes can be implemented on the properties.

The vote on Kluesner’s motion to delete the designation was five to one against, with Kluesner being the only one in favor.

Baker then made a motion to include mandatory public hearings on any changes to the current use of the land in the Public Purpose portion of the code. It passed five to one with Kluesner casting the only no vote. It was decided the Public Purpose section of the code will be rewritten by the city staff for council review.

The final action on code discussion was a unanimous vote to not send the document back to the P&Z at this time.

Topics on the council’s next meeting agenda will be carports, duplexes, the new language for Public Purpose zoning, a legal opinion on P&Z membership and the number of impact area residents to be included on the commission.

The next meeting of the Salmon City Council will be November 6 beginning at 6PM in the Salmon Valley Center meeting room.


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