Meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission held June 22, 2021, 5:30 P.M. in the Council Chambers of City Hall.
Mike Cook – Chairman
Kevin Asker – Vice Chair
Members absent: Graydon Galloway
City Staff: City Administrator Kennedy
Public Works Director Mager
The meeting was called to order by Mike Cook at 5:31 p.m.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES: On motion by Dan Gautney, second by Lee Spencer to approve the minutes of January 26, 2021 as presented. Motion carried.
PUBLIC HEARING #1 VARIANCE REQUEST: Clint Nau & Marcella McColloch-Nau, 415 N Idaho.
APPLICANT PRESENTATION: Marcella McColloch-Nau stated she bought the house five years ago. Their stoop at the front door is crumbling concrete and the sidewalk along the house dead ends at the stoop. They want to replace the front deck, running it along the front of the house and cover it to make it look nice and help protect the front of the house.
STAFF PRESENTATION: City Administrator Kennedy reported all notices of hearing were delivered and published as required. The proposal is to have a covered deck run along the front of the house with new decking and steps. If approved, the variance would allow the owner to building a 6’ deep covered porch that would encroach 16’ into the required 20’ front yard setback. The new covered area would project no closer to the street than the existing steps leading to the front door.
WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE: None
APPLICANT REBUTTAL: none
The hearing was closed at 5:37 p. m.
DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATION: Yolanda remembers doing something similar and questioned whether this could be grandfathered. Kennedy explained that it could not be grandfathered. When a new project is started in the City, it needs to conform to City Code at that time which is why Marcella applied for a variance.
On motion by Yolanda Stout, second by Brian Perry to recommend approval to the City Council to allow Clint Nau and Marcella McColloch-Nau at 415 N Idaho, to build a 6’ deep covered porch that would encroach 16’ into the required 20’ front yard setback. The new covered area would project no closer to the street than the existing steps leading to the front door. Motion carried.
PUBLIC HEARING #2 VARIANCE REQUEST: Raj Chahal – Variance on 44.8 acres west of South E Street, between the Old Dump Road and Highway 95. Mike Cook opened the hearing for Raj Chahal at 5:39 pm.
APPLICANT PRESENTATION: Raj Chahal explained he has about 44 acres of property in the city limits. He’s trying to do something with it so he’d like to take the approximate 35 acres of residential and sell it to one buyer. He has a buyer for the residential portion and the new buyer wants to develop it with housing. The prospective buyer wants to start right away, with housing or apartments. Then he’d like to sell the remaining commercial to three separate buyers. He’s had a few people approach him that are interested in smaller pieces.
STAFF PRESENTATION: City Administrator Kennedy explained Raj’s request is a variance to the subdivision rules. The subdivision ordinance was triggered when he sold off some property. Normally when the subdivision process is triggered the owner would develop a plat, have it approved, and install the public infrastructure which includes streets, curb, gutter, sidewalk, water, sewer and storm water system and then sold. Raj has a two-fold request. The first is to sell the residential as one piece. If granted, he could sell it as one piece and the new buyer could decide to put a house on it and do nothing or if they wanted to sell it, they would need to go through the subdivision process. On the commercial property, Raj wants to keep it but he wants to split it into three pieces so he can sell the 3 pieces individually. Raj does not plan to install any public infrastructure.
All notices of hearing were delivered and published as required. Kennedy had Public Works Director Mager attend to answer any questions related to street, water, sewer and fire.
Brian Perry questioned what access Raj has for the residential property. Raj stated the access is from Elk Street. Brian questioned if Elk Street was the only access for 35 acres. Raj stated he also has access off Lincoln via the old dump road. Brian asked Public Works Director Mager if it was a good enough road and maintained in the winter and if F Street was available to get to the dump road. Public Works Director Mager stated the City owns F Street and the right of way for it coming off Lincoln Avenue and plows it in the winter to get to the water tank. F Street is not a road that meets City specifications at this time. Brian questioned how the water system for the property would work. Mager stated everything from Elk Street to the south is in the high zone water system. Elk Street is a very expensive and important street; it has three mains, the high and low zone water mains and the sewer main.
Raj stated he has a Court Street easement too. Mager stated the City owns F Street between Court and Elk but half of Court Street access was sold to Cloninger. Kennedy questioned Raj whether Cloninger bought all of Court Street or half of it. Raj stated Cloninger bought all of Court Street but Raj retained an easement through Court Street for the road. Brian stated if the residential buyer used Court Street, they would then have to go South on F Street before getting to Elk Street. Raj stated the residential buyer wants to use Elk Street.
Brian asked where the access is to the commercial property. Raj explained he has an easement off Highway 95 and Court Street access too. On the Idaho Transportation Department easement, it depends on the nature of business going into the commercial zone if improvements on Highway 95 need to be made. If small business doesn’t have to put in a turning lane or anything. Raj also stated not all businesses may need water or sewer. If they do, they can work with the City to get services. Kennedy explained that’s why Raj’s request is a variance request to not only split commercial into three pieces but also a variance from the whole subdivision code of putting in public utilities/infrastructure. In the commercial if Raj has three separate buyers, they all need to figure out their own street, water and sewer and any other items they need. Raj does not want to do any of it.
Dan asked if this was annexed. Kennedy stated yes, it’s all in the City. Lee asked if there were any analogs or similar situations that could be referenced. Raj said if he sells it and people build something the City gets taxes and everyone wins. He doesn’t have time to deal with it.
Mike Cook read Raj’s request for the commercial property from the application so the commission was clear the request is to sell the commercial property in three parcels and also request for no installation of public utilities or infrastructure.
Raj felt if he can sell the property then the buyer can build what they want or what is required. Brian questioned how someone would access the property if split. Raj stated a new frontage road along Highway 95 would be available with Highway 95 access. Brian asked Mager if he felt it was a viable access? Mager stated no. The problem with commercial is you don’t know what is going to go there. It’s going to sell as individual lots. There is no water main. Someone needs to put in the service. Brian questioned how you get water to the commercial property. Mager stated it would need to come off Court or Elk street for water, but it’s not platted so someone would need to figure out how to run the circulation line. You have no ability to run the circulation because you’ve sold off property. Commercial property is more complicated.
Brian questioned sewer access. Raj said the state will allow him to run sewer along state right of way along the fence line to the manhole on 1st and E Street. That has not been confirmed by City employees. Raj stated he plans to build a frontage road and he has the approvals from ITD. Raj stated if the City can’t provide him water, then let him get out of the City. Yolanda questioned if the City has a copy of the approvals for access. Kennedy stated no. Raj stated if ITD has extra requirements, then the commercial buyer would have to work with ITD to complete any requirements, based upon the commercial use and what ITD requires. The new buyer would have to meet those requirements. Mager wanted to make sure it was clear; Raj is not being denied water. It’s that he’s requesting to split the commercial property into three lots and then making the new buyer figure out how to get water. The City hopes the new buyer is informed and understands he’s responsible to get a water and sewer line to the property and doesn’t get angry. The problem is a three-way split in commercial. Bob stated he knows there is the state access from Highway 95. He doesn’t know for sure on the easement for the sewer along the fence line. Mager stated the residential is far less complicated.
Kennedy explained on the residential property, if the variance is approved to allow the property to be sold to one buyer and that buyer wants to sell off any of the property, the new buyer would first need to go through the subdivision process and gain approval. If they don’t want to sell it off but would rather build a house, they would not go through the subdivision process.
Mike Cook questioned what if commercial was sold as one piece. On the commercial if it was sold as one piece and the new buyer wanted to split it, he would need to do a subdivision.
WRITTEN CORRESPONDENCE: None
NEUTRAL: Bruce Walker, 620 S E stated he was neutral at this point. Is the property still plated under the old plat? Kennedy stated the old plat is expired and void. Bruce asked if the 35-acre residential property was one tax number. Kennedy stated no it is not and showed a map of the two tax numbers.
The property was annexed in the early 2000s as two tax numbers. When the property was sold off it triggered the subdivision process. Now because it has triggered the subdivision process, Raj can not sell any of it, even as a whole without a variance to do so. That is part of his request because he doesn’t want to keep it all. He either needs to propose a plat for the entire property or if he wants to sell anything, he needs to get a variance. His request could have been to sell the entire property as one piece, however he wanted to submit his request as residential and commercial pieces. Bruce asked if Raj could plat the residential property as one piece and the commercial as three and then sell it off. Kennedy stated yes, he could plat it but he doesn’t want to. Bruce felt it was a convoluted request and nothing is really proposed that he can see. Raj just wants to be able to sell it off. Kennedy explained the residential area is Zone A. If a variance is approved to sell as one piece, it still is classified as Zone A and must meet those requirements with future development.
Bruce stated his biggest concern is the access and he’s concerned there is only one access. As a past fireman, he is concerned about having only one access to the property with multiple homes. Bruce also knows about the property up the Lincoln West property. He knew the City granted a variance on sewer requirements for those. He didn’t know what the sewer will be on this property, but he would hate to have them not connected to City sewer.
Joe Bednorz questioned if the old plat exists. Kennedy stated no. Joe asked if a new residential development would be proposed would there by notice to other property owners about the proposed area. Kennedy said if a buyer comes in and builds a house, they don’t have to do anything except get services. If the buyer wants to sell anything, they need to go through the subdivision process, which would include public notice and meetings on the proposal. Joe then questioned if that would allow the neighbors to come and help decide what should be in the subdivision. Kennedy explained the buyer would propose their plan while meeting all the City requirements. The City would not tell them how to design it; just make sure it meets all the code.
On residential property, Brian Perry stated Raj has good access off Elk, mediocre at best off Court, and horrible access off F Street and some off Highway 95. Brian felt like Raj was dumping the problem onto the new buyers. When the property is sold, it’s too late for the city to help. For example on Cloningers, it was poor planning to sell off Court Street and not have access through Court. Brian stated he would want to have good neighbors. If you know where the road and property lines are then you can be good neighbors. This is not the case here; some of the splits Raj has sold have created access issues. Brian doesn’t want this to be rehashed with a new buyer because they didn’t understand. Raj stated he retained an easement on Court Street for access. Mike clarified the request on the commercial property which is to split into three parcels with no public infrastructure or utilities. Dan Gautney questioned about the guy that wants to buy all the residential, will he buy the commercial too. Raj stated he is a residential developer only. Raj stated no one wants to be have a 9-acre commercial lot. He has people interested in buying smaller lots but not the full 9 acres.
APPLICANT REBUTTAL: Raj had nothing to say.
The hearing closed at 6:22 pm.
DISCUSSION AND RECOMMENDATION: Dan Gautney and Yolanda Stout felt it was a lot of information to digest and they might not want to make a decision tonight. Brian Perry felt the commission should discuss and see where it leads.
Commercial Request: Brian wanted to address the commercial request first. He stated he was not trying to deny American dream but if you get too many landowners in the commercial zone without a plan it doesn’t work. He felt Raj needed to have a plan of where water and sewer lines would go. If a buyer were to buy the west lot, they would take the full burden of installing the line and could cause possible issues for other owners. Or a buyer could have their new line tore up when another piece of the property was sold because it may not work with other development. Then the city would be left to clean up the mess. You are asking to be a subdivider in Grangeville without the ugly part, which is the infrastructure. It costs a bunch of money and everyone knows it. He doesn’t want Raj to go broke. He felt Raj should be the mentor for the ground and provide guidance to the future buyers. He would be more apt to be positive on a request if Raj said I don’t have money, time or resources but here’s the plan of where the infrastructure would go. Brian also felt there needed to be written guidance for access and right of way. Based upon the current request Brian would vote no. If Raj wanted to resubmit a request with written plans for public utilities and infrastructure, not installed, he would be more interested. All commission members agreed with Brian. Dan Gautney stated he hopes Raj would come back with a plan and different request that would help him move forward.
On motion by Dan Gautney, second by Yolanda Stout to deny the request for a commercial variance. ROLL CALL VOTE: YES: Perry, Stout, Gautney, Spencer, Asker NO: none. Motion carried.
Residential Request: Dan Gautney stated if there is one buyer and the property is annexed, he would be ok with a variance. Dan asked Mager if he saw any difficulties coming off Elk Street?
Mager stated no. If there was development, the owner would go through the subdivision process, which includes a plat, technical review, engineering, grades, roads, water, sewer, fire and streets. At this time Raj is stuck and can’t do anything with the property. This is his chance to let someone else do something. Brian Perry asked if Court Street is doable. Mager stated yes, but a plan is needed, and it’s based upon the owners involved.
Brian stated he was in favor of letting Raj sell the residential piece in one chunk to a potential buyer. He hopes they have due diligence when buying the property. Brian also hoped Raj would submit his court street easement to the City to review when the recommendation goes to them. Brian is ok with Raj getting out from under the property. He would like the recommendation to the Council to say Raj needs to have right of way and easements locked down on paper. Lee Spencer stated he would like to have more paperwork before making a decision. Mike Cook asked Lee if he was opposed to allowing the sale of property as one piece? Lee stated yes at this time. Mike explained if a new buyer wanted to propose something, they would still have to submit that paperwork. Lee stated the subdivision process is there for a reason. If P&Z recommends a variance then it’s passing it on to the next buyer; it just seems like he’s passing the buck. Raj questioned why Brian wants the paperwork. Brian stated he comes from the fire world. He’s concerned about having one access. If a subdivision has 60 houses, then in a two-person home there could be 120 cars on one road.
On motion by Dan Gautney, second by Yolanda Stout to recommend to the City Council that Raj Chahal be allowed to sell the approximate 35 residential acres to one buyer with the recommendation he has to submit the easement/right of way access points he has in hard copy to the city. ROLL CALL VOTE: YES: Perry, Stout, Gautney, Asker NO: Spencer. Motion carried.
NEW BUSINESS: Dan Gautney stated he would like to talk about permits for vendors selling on property in the City. Kennedy explained it could go on the next agenda for discussion. If anyone else would like to add something to a future agenda, let Kennedy know the Friday before the meeting.
NEXT MEETING: The next meeting is July 27, 2021.
Adjourn by Mike Cook at 6:50 p.m.
Tonya Kennedy – City Clerk