City, county to work out new development agreement

Fruitland city officials confirm the appointments of Mel Person, Jerry Henggeler and Don Haagensen as members of the Fruitland City Impact Area Negotiations Committee on Feb. 16. The committee aims to bring city codes into alignment with county codes, as they pertain to future development.

PAYETTE — While cities’ officials set out to work out what’s best for their residents, they often can use help making sure their decisions don’t clash with decisions made by officials for the counties they reside in. That’s part of the thinking behind the formation of the city of Fruitland’s Impact Area Negotiations Committee.

At the Payette County Board of Commissioners’ regular meeting in the afternoon on Tuesday, Feb. 16, Fruitland city officials confirmed the appointments of Mel Person, Jerry Henggeler and Don Haagensen as members of the committee, with the Payette County Board of Commissioners approval.

Fruitland City Councilor Stuart Grimes explained the reasons behind the committee’s formation in an interview the same day.

“[It is] for the city and the county to come to sort of a mutual agreement on what standards we want to see put in place for areas within our impact area to be developed to, whether it be residential or commercial,” said Grimes. 

He said the main issues city officials are trying to address include updating an older agreement between the city and the county.

“This thing’s 20 years old, there’s a whole lot that’s changed  in Fruitland over the last 20 years,” said Grimes. “Development’s big right now, Fruitland’s growing, so there’s a lot of these issues in the impact area that are taking place. We just want to make sure that things are kind of running efficiently between the two areas.”

The desired result of the committee’s work is to continue to encourage “responsible growth,” as described by Grimes.

“Some of things we’re going to talk about kind of have an impact on what our city looks like as it continues to grow and develop, and we annex more land into the city limits.”

Grimes noted that city officials see no end to anticipated growth and annexations for the foreseeable future, “Simply because there’s a lot of demand right now for housing in Fruitland; We’ve got a lot of businesses that have been contacting the city that are possibly interested in locating here. Growth is one of those things where you still want to have the small town feel but you can’t just completely stifle growth because if you do then the town dies.”

Grimes said city officials are being proactive making an agreement between the city and the county, instead of reactive. Meetings will be broken down by topic, starting with reviewing zoning laws then working their way out from there.

“Some of [the codes] we’ll be in agreement on right off the bat, because there’s nothing really to disagree about, and then some of them there’s some pretty stark differences between the county and the city’s ordinances, so we need to come up with kind of a middle ground where we both feel comfortable that it works for everyone involved.”

With that in mind, Grimes said he expects that neither side will expect to get everything their way.

Grimes said the aim is to go through city and county codes and work to bring Fruitland’s code into congruence with county code within 180 days. But that target’s not set in stone, he said.

The committee is set to meet with city officials on Monday, May 17 to get to work making needed changes. Until then, Grimes said city officials will be comparing city development codes against those of the county.

Grimes said efforts were already underway to update city code, saying there is “no big rush” but rather officials are aiming to ensure codes reflect the needs of both entities at this stage.

“Some conversations are gonna have to take place; Nobody’s got a crystal ball on when we’ll have this thing wrapped up.”

Other topics to be addressed include landscaping, parking, signs, private street and highway development, planned unit developments, street naming and addressing, and oil and gas operations.

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