The three Bear Lake County Commissioners convened in regular meeting on July 12, 2021, with assistance from County Clerk Cindy Garner and County Prosecutor Joe Hayes.
Treasurer Poulsen announced collections went very well and “things are nice right now.”
Assessor Dunford advised 15 applications had been received for a position in his office, four were interviewed and an offer had been made and accepted by a candidate. Details are now being worked out for a start date.
Commissioner Jensen attended an IDAWY Landfill and a Bear Lake Regional Commission meeting, both of which he said are moving along well.
Commissioner Payne reminded the attendees that bids had been requested for the snow removal equipment building at the airport but none had been received so the intent had been to have the building constructed through the association process but concerns were raised that the FAA would not approve. Big D Construction and another contractor expressed interest in the project so additional investigation will be conducted before a decision is made on proceeding. He commented on lumber futures going down which would have a positive impact on future prices which may help the overall cost. He also commended the Fair Board for their work regarding the number of animals participating in the fair.
Commissioner Payne also read the Drought Declaration issued by the Governor and Department of Water Resources for Bear Lake County as of July 2, 2021. The Declaration declares a drought emergency for the County and allows administrative actions to lessen the impacts of the County’s drought conditions. Temporary changes are specified to provide replacement of water to lands that normally have water except for the drought condition but may not provide water for new development or to expand existing water rights.
Chairman Rasmussen indicated new Covid funds will be coming to the County and he would like to use a portion to upgrade communications among all departments. His recommendation is to hire an independent communications consultant to evaluate what is needed to maximize the investment and programs.
Sheriff Heslington stated it is important to address the County’s communications overall and recalled a committee had been organized to do so but had lost momentum. He noted a command center is needed and Alan Eborn, County Emergency Management Coordinator, agreed that a coordinated effort is needed to identify issues and fix them. The County’s 2007 emergency operations plan will be available as the basis for the interoperability conversation going forward. Rasmussen commented that, “Now is a key time to do it to work together. We’re going to have to bid it.” Heslington continued that over the holiday, the Sheriff’s Office had an extremely busy without anything catastrophic. Several counties again plan to assist during Raspberry Days.
Chairman Rasmussen reported on the GEM board meeting where four more counties may join the organization and they expect 30 counties total by year end. With regard to Covid, last week was the first time there were no cases reported in the County but there are cases this week.
In routine business, claims were ratified, minutes of June 14 and June 22, 2021 were approved, a motion was approved to support the Forest Service regarding the Great American Outdoor Act and a decision was made to enter into a memorandum of understanding with Wyoming regarding interstate cooperation for emergency services. It was mentioned that cooperation in most areas with Utah is also working smoothly at this time.
Chairman Rasmussen expressed appreciation to Alan Eborn for his work in the emergency drought declaration application. Eborn relayed that a new director has been appointed and would like to visit with the commissioners during their September meeting. Arrangements will be made by the commissioners, including a special meeting if needed, to match schedules to meet the new director. Rasmussen encouraged a non-emergency visit to the newly constructed emergency section and other remodeled areas of the hospital such as the MRI. He mentioned the possibility of helping the Senior Center with the new Covid funds. In support of such a possibility, Eborn stated the County’s emergency generator is there and has been used.
Wayne Davidson, County Building Inspector, provided two versions of the building fee report, the newest of which lists permits by town or township area. St. Charles and Paris have engaged Davidson as building inspector. He has been told that contractors are being told to stop building while waiting for lower prices to be realized. In addition, realtors had 700 properties in inventory last year but now there are about 100 properties for sale. He expressed some concern about remote hillsides where there is increasing interest and people are placing pre-built sheds then using them as a “dry” cabin. There is often an increase of destructive traffic to reach these areas. He offered the memorandum for building inspection services with St. Charles for the commissioners’ signature.
Deloy Romrell requested assistance from the Road and Bridge Department to help repair the road to the communications tower. Parties who have facilities at the site include the State of Idaho, Idaho State Police, Fish and Game, State of Wyoming, WyoLink Trunk Site (Transportation and State Police), U.S. Forest Service, Bear Lake County (700 MHz Trunk System), Rocky Mountain Power (Microwave, Telemetry and 2-way radio). With Romrell and other representatives of Idaho Department of Transportation, the Commissioners engaged in a lengthy discussion of the road location and configuration, property ownership in the vicinity and other factors involving the proposal. After reaching a satisfactory conclusion, the commissioners unanimously approved a motion to work with Scott Morrison (private property owner) and BLM to improve the road sections requested.
Mitch Poulsen, County Planning and Zoning Administrator, presented the recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Commission to approve a rezone request from agriculture to rural community for a Sharon area property.
He reported the results of the public hearing on the rezone and noted the parcel does not lie within the overlay zone. The recommendation had been passed with the caveat that the new zone be rescinded if a preliminary plat had not been approved within two years. In support of the application, Mark Budge (realtor for the property) identified access points and explained the nine-lot preliminary subdivision plan. The commissioners unanimously approved all the recommendations of the Planning Commission regarding the rezone.
Kathi Izatt discussed the County’s development ordinances, generally, but pointed out competing provisions in the subdivision ordinance regarding lot line adjustment processes that had been a point repeated with the Planning and Zoning Commission. She also explained there are 5-6 definitions in the Land Use Ordinance that are used nowhere else in the ordinance, making them superfluous.
Stressing how important she felt it is that the County not only follow its ordinances and Idaho law but that County ordinances remain current, she requested Prosecutor Hayes explain amendment procedures. Chairman Rasmussen directed that Commissioner Jensen work with the Planning Commission on ordinance updates. There was brief discussion about Idaho Code conformance and training. In addition, Izatt explained research she conducted into short-term rental in all Idaho counties.
During the public comments period, the matter regarding access between the McKinnon and Webster property in the Bailey Creek area was addressed. A possibility of vacating the road had been posed as well as an agreement between neighbors to resolve the matter. Attention will be given to re-grading the road to make it more County standard compliant to meet Webster’s concerns about water running onto his property.
Fire Chief Mark Parker inquired about the County’s intent to make some roadways private when access is of concern for fire fighting purposes. An explanation of 120’ wide right of ways was given, identifying spots where the width is of record but structures have been built within that width and actual traveled areas are much more narrow. The intent is to reduce the right of way to the traveled portion. After Parker asked about County fireworks prohibitions, the Commissioners looked at a 2012 ordinance and agreed to work toward providing authority to the Fire Chief to ban fireworks as needed.
Road and Bridge Superintendent Scott Esquibel commented on the amount of dust suppressant now available before exceeding the budget and suggested adjusting that budget in the future. He had attended the five-county transportation meeting where the possibility of funding future projects was broached but it was his expectation the County had insufficient funds to provide matching funds to meet the August application deadline. He reiterated the County’s portion of the St. Charles Creek project is $58,000. He assembled specifications for a dump truck and snow plow and stated that if the commissioners approved those details, it would take about a year to build under a lease-to-own arrangement.
The meeting was adjourned so that the Commissioners could undertake duties as the Board of Equalization