Thursday, August 30, 2012

P & Z Denies Appeal

P&Z Board of Commissioners, L-R: Dan Gasiorowski,
Lois K. Murphy, Clint Evans, Jack Kane, Jon Bart
and Rosemary Ardinger.
The hearing produced no fisticuffs and the most dramatic appeals were presented by one woman on each side, Mary Wilson and Cari Severance.

Wilson pleaded for their quality of life in Garden Valley: “This is the reason we paid $650 to appeal. When (Severance) ramped up activity at the gravel pit in the spring, we couldn’t hear someone talk. Our summer has been horrible. We’re so frustrated—we were either ignored or given the runaround—our anger turned to this appeal. We’re not trying to put them out of business; we just want the sound volume to go down and to live in peace.”
    Outgoing commissioners, Clint Evans, shown here, and
Jon Bart, were handed letters of thanks from the Boise County
 Board of Commissioners, by Rora Canody. Evans
mentioned the Alamar Hearings and said, "Jon, we tried!"
Cari Severance, left, and Mary Wilson.
  Cari Severance gave the history of her family lineage as supporters of Garden Valley and said, “The intent of Les Severance, in 1978, was to create an honest and hard-working business to support his family. Prior to recent complaints, we had only one formal but unfounded complaint. They fail to realize we have had very little to do with the State project...we simply offered an inroad and out-road to the State...we count on Garden Valley to support our family.”

Severance ended by quoting John Lennon. "...imagine all the people living life in peace..." The women appear to have the same goal in mind.

The first complaint against Severance Sand and Gravel by the current appellants was in 2006, regarding the gravel crusher noise coming down the Southfork river. According to them, no action was taken and they gave up. Cari Severance was not available to explain why the activity was recently “ramped up”.

Appellants say that it was due to state and county road construction projects this spring and summer.
Appellant, Pete Wilson, having his say.

The group of appellants, calling themselves “Citizens for responsible government”, attended the April 19, 2012, meeting of the Boise County Planning and Zoning Commissioners, to protest against the operation of an asphalt plant that Severance was requesting. The plant was denied because the board hadn’t yet studied the request; Severance then dropped it.
Appellants say that at that meeting, Rora Canody, P&Z Interim Administrator, advised the citizens group to “put their complaints in writing—document them”. After one-hundred and forty e-mails and sixty-eight recorded complaints, board members commented several times about it being “a bit much”.

 At this Administrative Appeal on August 9, Mills Mountain View resident, Chris Parker, stated that in the appellants’ opinion, Severance violated the conditions of their Conditional Use Permit (CUP) on multiple occasions, over an approximate two month period, starting in May. He said, “Despite numerous complaints, we feel the P&Z did little to investigate...residents felt we were ignored, stalled, mislead, given contradictory statements and information—even threatened with charges of criminal harassment by the Boise County Deputy Prosecutor.”

Chris Parker races through his appeal.

Parker told the board that to support their assumptions, residents requested Planning and Zoning documentation of countywide CUP violations, for the last five years. He said the answer was zero: no CUP violations, no fines, no CUP enforcement action by the P&Z. He smiled...”Either we have some inordinately well-behaved businesspeople in Boise County...or enforcement is non-existent.”

  Clint Evans, sitting at his last P&Z meeting as chairman, explained that this was an appeal against decisions that Rora Canody had made as acting Enforcement Officer, regarding three conditions in the Severance gravel pit CUP: She agreed that the (according to appellants, view-obstructing and illegally sold) field dirt was a legitimate part of the sand and gravel operation and could be sold; she reported no noise violations; and said the dirt piles on the bluff did not impact it.

Richard Andrus
  During visual presentations by Canody and Severance legal representative, Richard Andrus, refutations were made against claims that the piles of dirt compromised the view from Scenic Highway 17 and the homes of the appellants. Andrus also said that the sale of the topsoil (under the CUP, to be used for minor reclamation) in no way affects the appellants’ quality of life. The attorney told the board that the appellants were misinterpreting the language of the Conditional Use Permit.

  Andrus also averred that Severance Sand and Gravel never operates on Sunday, before dawn or after dusk. With Canody’s low noise-level readings, Andrus remarked that the only credible information stated was by the decibel reader, saying that “stating an untruth over and over does not make it true”.

  Appellant, Ron Richter, commented, “I question the authenticity of the sound readings, since we can get a reading in the eighties from four blocks away...if you wish, please don’t come out over the lunch hour when the pit is shut down.”

  Ken Patterson, also a resident in Mills Mountain View subdivision, spoke: “I agree, making a statement over and over—no, it doesn’t make it true. And we heard Mrs. Severance give her pedigree—if you gave that of the appellants, we’re solid citizens too.”

  Chairman Evans began to close the hearing by saying, “Our P&Z has done an exceptional job keeping it going without resources...Rora even purchased a decibel reader to do the reading. I object to the appellants’ written appeal—it’s very derogatory to the P&Z department. (Mr. Parker) suggested having a qualified permit administrator...hire an enforcement officer...this board has no authority to do that. We’re just volunteers.”

  Evans recommended the board deny the appeal; citing piles of dirt at the school, the lumber mill, and the other gravel pit, he said, “I think the administrator did everything she could do. She’s a busy lady.” He told the appellants this would give them the opportunity to appeal to the county commissioners.

  The board then agreed that 60 decibels is a low noise level to expect from this type of operation and neighbor. It was suggested that the department should look at changing the requirements.

   Outgoing commissioner, Jon Bart, agreed that the 60 decibels was not reasonable but went on record as saying, “I’m very concerned about the noise. I think there are some problems. We may not have the evidence...but something there needs attention.”

   Commissioner Dan Gasiorowski recommended mediation between the two parties and County Prosecutor, Ian Gee, spoke up to volunteer: “I recused myself from advising the commissioners tonight, as in the past year, I provided legal advice to two or three appellants. I would act as mediator if you want to proceed to the commissioners.”

  When asked if they would be amenable to mediation, Richard Andrus replied, “I’m always open to conversation,” and Ken Patterson responded, “You bet!”
   As citizens rose to head home, commissioner Jack Kane announced his resignation "in protest to the addition of Jayne Reed to the Commission", saying there is no room on the board for someone who doesn't support Boise County businesses.
   Amid mutterings and gaping mouths, everyone filed out, hopefully to a have nice ride home to their respective dwellings in all corners of the county.





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