City Council met in special session on April 26, 2021 at 6:00 P.M. in the Council Chambers of City Hall.
Mayor Lester presided:
City employees present were City Administrator Kennedy, Public Works Director Mager and Attorney Green.
Raj Chahal and Hunter Edwards were present.
Mayor Lester explained the sub-committee made up of himself, Councilors Winkler and Grant, Bob Mager and Tonya Kennedy met with Raj Chahal on April 21st to go through some options on what we thought might work. The discussion was to allow 4 residential lots accessed off Elk Street and 3 commercial lots accessed off the Highway 95 entrance. Raj stated he didn’t want to pave any streets but would gravel a road from E St out into the area of Elk Street extended. The streets would not be public streets nor built to city standards. Public works would not be responsible for grading, snow plowing or anything. On the commercial splits, the committee didn’t really talk about streets since the access was coming off Highway 95. The commercial zone is everything north of court street extended and according to Raj, too big to sell as one piece. If city services would be requested from a residential buyer, the water is available on E Street and then it would be private line. On commercial, Raj was hoping there would be access on Highway 95. Those present at the meeting pretty much agreed to the above options.
After the meeting, Mayor Lester stated he started worrying about the options agreed to. He worried about the roads not being public roads. There would not be fire or garbage access. There would be no public services the City would normally provide to those properties. Public Works Director Mager stated in order to provide those services, the roads would need to be certain width and able to hold the weight of those vehicles.
Councilor Grant went home from the meeting and couldn’t sleep. She is not sure the tentative agreement benefits the city. The City gets nothing by allowing the splits. She is afraid someone buying a property would come back to the City and say we need to have city services. With the proposal discussed, the City can’t provide fire, garbage, snow plowing or other services, even though the property would be paying City property taxes. After additional thought, she would like to see the property sold as one piece. Raj is here today, because he bought the property and put himself in this mess. Grant is afraid the City would be on the hook to provide the services for future owners.
Raj stated he has been in contact with Idaho housing and they would like to start with the 40 apartments and has a potential buyer for 10 acres. Raj stated he wants to sell the property.
Mayor Lester stated the subdivider puts in water, sewer, street, curb gutter and street lights. It is not the City’s responsibility. Mager stated the subdivision creates the right of way where all the public infrastructure is placed and roads are built to LHTAC standards. Without the subdivision plat to set right of ways, Mager is at a loss for the placement of private utility lines and any future street light installs by Avista.
Councilor Canaday asked what LHTAC standards were. Mager stated it’s regulations for streets and roads, weights, compacting, and it sets standards for residential and commercial. The right of way has conduits for power and fiber and shows where water and sewer go in the roads, including manholes.
Mayor Lester talked to AIC today. Back in 2005/2006 a lot of property was annexed. Around 2010, when the market fell out, landowners were asking to de-annex. Justin with AIC stated none of those areas were de-annexed, other than in the Boise area where they were put back into agricultural land to farm. This would be the only one he is aware of that would be de-annexed and still built on. Attorney Green stated the Council needs to determine what you want your city to look like.
Mayor Lester explained Mager has been trying to do the BST on gravel roads to try to get rid of anything gravel in the city. The City has 5 or 6 gravel roads left. Mager explained most of these roads have a base and are built as a city street.
Mager stated from a fire chief concern, city fire trucks are heavy pumper trucks. They are not designed to go on rural roads and they need to be connected to a hydrant. In this situation, it becomes problematic on how to fight fire. It would be a long way from a hydrant. As fire chief, in this case, he doesn’t have a real road. As public works director how do you tell utility companies where to put junction boxes when you have no right of way. It’s hard to have a rural area inside the city.
Councilor Winkler questioned if in a variance can roads be required with the main lines? Such as develop Elk Street with hydrants and mains.
Hunter Edwards questioned what the price is for 100’ of road. Councilor Canaday stated that 1,000’ at 10’ wide was about $10,000. Mayor Lester stated there are 16 blocks on his city block. In new subdivision, lots are selling for $80,000. This is occurring in other cities. Streets are being installed as the subdivision is being built. It doesn’t work to sell the lots and expect others to put in the street. Subdivision rules have not changed since Raj bought the property except they have gotten better as the 25% down on lots for equity buy was eliminated.
Mager stated the Williams Subdivision was completed in the late 2000s, including streets, curb, gutter and utilities and following all subdivision requirements.
Councilor Grant understands Raj wants to get his money back but doesn’t feel the City can give up that much. She felt Raj needed a plan for the entire property.
Raj stated maybe he could de-annex the commercial area and keep the residential in the City. Then he could sell the commercial property.
Councilor Winkler stated he is not for de-annexing. He doesn’t want gravel thrown down on the ground to create a road and sell off 10 acre parcels. De-annexing is going backwards. If Raj can’t meet the City in middle by building roads and doing things properly, he doesn’t want to de-annex. Winkler wants to see something that is put together correctly. He would like to see a plan developed that could be done in phases and have the land developed. He would like to see the city grow with homes but have someone do it right.
Councilor Canaday would like to see organized growth. Councilor Lane would like orderly growth. He felt if it’s in the City without fire protection, garbage, bad roads, and poor police protection, there would be problems.
Councilor Grant stated the property is also Zone A so animals aren’t allowed. If someone buys 10 acres what is the City going to do when they come to you saying they want animals?
Mayor Lester asked what the options are if the City doesn’t want to de-annex and the developer won’t follow the subdivision rules. Attorney Green stated the developer could apply for a variance. If the property is in the City, the subdivision rules apply. If the developer doesn’t want to comply, they could apply for a variance for some of the property. Lester questioned if there was a process that would allow Raj to sell the property as a whole. Green stated he would still need to go through the variance process with P&Z.
Councilor Farris was hesitant to allow de-annexation. She understands Raj wanting to get his money back. She felt the City should consider allowing him to sell the whole 40 acres and let the new buyer figure out a subdivision.
Councilor Peterson asked if selling to a new buyer would allow the buyer to make splits. Kennedy explained the property would still require a plat as the subdivision has already been triggered.
Councilor Grant felt Raj should look at an investor or selling as once piece. Grant wants to see growth, not de-annexation.
Attorney Green stated if Raj wants to apply for a variance, he can do so. The Council can’t make a decision on what he hasn’t asked for. The City had public hearing on the de-annexation. The Council doesn’t have to make a decision tonight, but they need to make a decision.
Mager stated Raj has said the cost to put the infrastructure in doesn’t allow him to get the return he wants on the property. Mager and Kennedy have met with Raj over the last couple years, along with other staff. Raj has all the information the City can provide to come up with a plan.
Raj questioned the width of streets in Grangeville including the 60’ residential streets and why Court Street requirements are so wide.
Mager explained commercial is wider than residential. Raj sold the property to Clonco deeper than the commercial area and had the property rezoned. This made Court Street a commercial street. The City currently has issues with the F Street by Zip Trip and is unwilling to create a new subdivision with a road width we know doesn’t work for commercial traffic.
Councilor Grant felt it should be placed on the next agenda for a decision. There is a lot of information and everyone can think about it and make a decision on May 3rd to approve or deny the annexation request.
The meeting adjourned at 6:56 P.M.
Wes Lester – Mayor
Tonya Kennedy – Clerk