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Comments plentiful on final P&Z draft

July 7, 2011

BLACKFOOT — About 50 people attended the Planning and Zoning (P&Z) hearing Wednesday night to discuss the Proposed Code Revisions Final Draft.
One point of order came about when it was pointed out that P&Z have issued two final drafts. The older version states it was last printed on April 22, 2011. The newer version is dated June 7, 2011.
The dates would be of no consequence, however, the final drafts are different.
Under section 5.2.49 Wind Turbines, the April draft has number 9 that states, "[Wind turbines are] Limited to no more than two (2) wind turbine per parcel."
In the June version, number 9 was eliminated and the following numbers were corrected. In the April version, section 5.2.49 has 17 numbered statements. In the June version, there are 16 statements.
About half the P&Z commissioners had the April copy; the other half had the June copy.
Bingham County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Andrew suggested the P&Z commissioners add language to the first paragraph that specifically defines the relationship with the Fort Hall Indian Reservation.
Andrew suggested the statement, "except those lands located within the exterior boundaries of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation which Bingham County does not have jurisdiction under federal law" be added to the definition of what the P&Z ordinance covers in the county.
Attorney Mark EchoHawk, who represents the Shoshone-Bannock tribes, said he was not [attending the meeting] in an adversarial position.
The tribe wants to work in a cooperative way [with Bingham County] to distinguish the gray area, EchoHawk said. One of these "gray areas" is Indian and non-Indian owned land on the reservation.
Merrill Blake from Shelley asked the P&Z commissioners, "Why am I here if this is the final draft?"
Blake was concerned about grandfathered rights on original parcels. He was assured these rights were still in the document.
Concern about individual rights were expressed by more than one person.
Beverly Rocks said, "I am appalled a group of unelected people can take all of my property rights away."
The P&Z commissioners are appointed by the county commissioners. The county is roughly divided into three areas—north, Blackfoot area and south. Each area is represented by three P&Z commissioners.
P&Z commission chairwoman Ann Christensen explained the P&Z commissioners make their recommendation to the county commissioners. The County Commissioners make the final determination.
Susan Gunter said, "I see nothing about taxing tea in [the final draft] but I see a lot of my freedoms going out the window."
Other people expressed concerns about signage, the influence of liberal organizations in the county's comprehensive plan and inconsistencies in the Final Draft.
More than one person suggest the P&Z commissioners start again. Others suggested that more of the People's Draft be incorporated in the Final Draft.
"In the four months we had to write the People's Draft, more the 60 people worked it," said Lona Murdock.
"Regulate what is defined as a nuisance," said Steven Cower. "Regulate what needs to be regulated; leave people alone."
The P&Z commissioners will discuss their views on the Final Draft publicly before voting on their recommendation.

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