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Time was set aside on the July 16 City Council meeting agenda to discuss the new Shopko store that will be built on Highway 93 South near Cemetery Lane.

The main issue was in regards to the council’s feeling that the council and the public had been left entirely out of the loop in which the decision to approve the 36,000 square foot store was made.

The council was informed that there is nothing in the old city code, presently still in use, that requires an economic impact study, public hearing or mandatory official notifications when all the codes in place are met. Upgrades to the city code are currently being made and lessons learned about effects caused due to a lack of communication prior to approval of the Shopko building permit may very well be addressed in future codes.

City Planning and Zoning Administrator and City Code Compliance Officer Dan Maiyo was called upon to provide a summary of the Shopko permitting process time-line. He said the initial inquiry as to development code requirements and whether or not any economic incentives would be offered came in the form of an email on October 30 of 2013. He relayed the email to Lemhi County Economic Development Executive Director Tammy Stringham and to Mayor Leo Marshall.

Subsequent email correspondence and telephone conversations ensued between Maiyo and project engineers who were seeking Development Code requirements and sending proposed site plans. All plans were conveyed to the Public Works Department for evaluation.

Maiyo said a review of the plans and the Development Code resulted in a determination that the proposed use was permitted in that zone. He forwarded the proposal to the Idaho Department of Transportation which ordered a traffic impact analysis. As a result of the analysis the department required the company to fund turnout lanes at the Highway 93 South entrance. Those lanes are now under construction.

Maiyo said as the process moved forward the company met all Development Code requirements such as; not being in a flood hazard zone, proper setbacks, building height, lot coverage requirements, proper zoning, water and sewer connection availability, parking spaces, run-off containment, erosion control and on-site traffic circulation. The codes also include a required percentage of landscaping, non-glare lighting and acceptable noise levels.

Maiyo said all requirements were met and all were addressed in a Planning and Zoning Record of Decision. Maiyo added that everything is ‘pie in the sky” up to when a building permit is actually granted. Everything before that point is conceptual and could disappear into nothingness at any point in the process.

The zoning portion of the building permit and Record of Decision was signed on June 12 of this year and was returned to the Lemhi County Building Department. The building permit was in hand around the first week of June.

Councilman Jim Bockelman requested that the developer make an in-person presentation to the council to supply factual information and answer questions. Councilman Russ Chinske asked if any kind of economic impact study regarding effects on existing businesses had been done. The answer was no study was done because by code none is required.

Chinske said the lack of information has been very frustrating and he asked just what benefits having another big box store will bring to Salmon. He said established private businesses cannot compete with national mass buying power prices. He said he is very concerned about the public’s not having a say and thinks an opportunity for public comment should be included in the permitting process.

Council President Jim Baker said this addition to the community will be taking from other businesses.

Mayor Leo Marshall said it is too late to add additional steps to this permitting process but not too late to insert a public comment opportunity into the new codes. He also said the structure itself is being built by COCCA, a real estate and development management company which will lease the facility to Shopko. Marshall advised council members that the best procedure when confronted with rumors is to check with City Hall first. He said that way the correct information can be passed on to constituents.

Bockelman and Councilman Ken Hill reiterated an invitation should be extended for a Shopko presentation.

The council has set a workshop date of August 5th for further discussion on the proposed City Development Code upgrades. The workshop will begin at 5:30PM in the Salmon Valley Center meeting room.
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