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The city has received a petition against the building of a Whitewater Kayak Recreational Park, or any other type water craft park, within the city limits of Salmon.

The proposed ordinance also seeks to prohibit any alterations to any natural waterway within the city including but not limited to the creation of artificial waves, barriers, hydraulic features or any other man made water features. A second yes or no question on the petition would make it, “…unlawful for any individual, group or entity to build any structures within the city in the Salmon River, or to cause any diversions in the Salmon River for any recreational or other purpose.”

At the December 18 Salmon City Council meeting City Attorney Fred Snook explained the procedural duties involved when a petition is received. First, the council is required to review the document in terms of the form in which the petition has been filed to make sure it meets legal requirements.

Snook said he sent the petition to Nancy Stricklin, an attorney for the Association of Idaho Cities, and she addressed several issues within the document starting with the first paragraph. She said the initial paragraph is not accurate because it should be a summary of the content of the petition, not a summary of the ordinance. Stricklin immediately acknowledged that the writer of the petition followed the city’s code on how the document should be drafted however, the city code is incorrect. Snook informed the council that the first order of business will be to amend the city code.

He said Stricklin also referred to there being two questions on the petition. She said if there are to be two questions there needs to be a separate petition for each.

As to the content of the questions being submitted Stricklin said that based on a Supreme Court case the city has to allow petitioners to submit the questions to the voters, even if the questions may not be legal or a valid subject for such a petition. She said that even if the city does not believe the questions to be valid it still has to wait and see what the voters decide, then if the ballot language is believed by the city to be incorrect, take the issue to court.

Stricklin also said the first portion of the petition reads like a zoning issue and zoning can’t be done by initiative. As to not allowing structures, diversions or alterations to the river she said, “…the issue is preempted by state law.” [The state has jurisdiction over the waters of Idaho.]

Stricklin advised that if the structural flaws in the petition are corrected and the petitioners choose to move forward, the city will need to make sure the public is fully informed about the issues in the petition. She said the information must be neutral in content and no public funds can be used for any sort of lobbying.

It was confirmed that Snook will notify the petitioners about which aspects of the petition need to be fixed and an amendment correcting the city code will be placed on a City Council meeting agenda.

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