PAYETTE COUNTY — A week after hearing conflicting testimony from the proposal’s foes and supporters, Payette County commissioners decided Monday to reboot the whole debate surrounding a second gravel mining and crushing operation on Killebrew Drive.
The Board of Commissioners voted 3-0 to remand the matter to the Payette County Planning and Zoning Commission. The Commission’s action Monday effectively voids the P&Z’s April decision to grant a conditional use permit to IRVCO Asphalt and Gravel.
The permit would allow the company to mine gravel on Doug Daws’ parcel at 1985 Killebrew Drive, where IRVCO also proposes to run a crusher 45 days per year. Hauls from the site would be restricted to weekdays. Company officials said their agreement is Daws was to operate the site no longer than five years.
Some or all of those conditions may still apply if the permit is ultimately approved, but for now the county commissioners are more interested in starting the land use decision-making process afresh, creating a new record which doesn’t include perceived procedural flaws. The proposal will receive a new public hearing at the P&Z level.
“We’ve had some discussion, some legal opinions, and I think the feeling is there’s a lot of confusion and perhaps, I think we have decided,” Commission Chairwoman Georgia Hanigan said Monday immediately before Commissioner Reece Hrizuk offered the first of two motions to remand two separate appeals of the conditional use permit to the P&Z.
After both of Hrizuk’s motions passed unanimously, Hanigan briefly addressed the applicant and appellants directly. “I apologize. We just need clarification… [and] an opportunity to free up some more discussion,” Hanigan told them.
The separate appeals of the P&Z’s decision to issue the permit were both from site neighbors — one filed by residents Donna and Frazer Peterson, and the other by an existing gravel operation named Payette Rocks.
The Board of Commissioners combined the appeals into a single hearing on May 27, which lasted approximately an hour. After the last of the testimony wrapped up, Hanigan explained that the board wouldn’t be rendering a decision that day. The delay was due to an omission of the words, “action item,” on the hearing item’s listing on the meeting agenda which had been posted on the county’s website. Under Idaho law, governments are not supposed to vote on agenda items which are not listed as action items.
The Petersons challenged the permit on grounds that it would reduce the value of their property while the gravel operation generated noise and dust which would also negatively affect the couple’s enjoyment of their property.
The couple additionally raised the issue of road safety on Killebrew Drive, saying traffic has not only greatly increased during their 27 years of living there, but most worrisome is the large number of drivers traveling at excessive speeds.
“Killebrew Drive has become the new highway to get from Ninety-five to Fifty-two,” Frazer Peterson said at the May 27 appeal hearing. “It’s the way you get to the landfill, and so the truck traffic is just unbelievable. … The speeds are unbelievable. … It’s a thirty-five mile an hour zone. … I would say the average speed is between fifty-five and sixty-five in front of our home.”
The Petersons, who already endure the noise from Payette Rocks’ crushing operation on a bordering property, an operation formerly run by Donoho, say they would become “sandwiched” between crushing sites if the IRVCO application is approved.
“One of the biggest things I have as an issue with this application is the crushing operation. We were told when Donoho was put in that they would only crush about two weeks a year,” Frazer Peterson said. “They now crush on a regular basis, because they’re a larger ongoing operation that’s now under different ownership. A few weeks ago we were out doing yardwork… [and] they crushed for about four hours on Saturday. Now if you took a radio out and put it outside while you were working in the garden, you could not hear the radio from the crushing. This is a quarter of a mile away from us. The proposal for [IRVCO’s] crusher will be a matter of a few hundred feet from our back fence line, which is right on the corner of the back of our house, which is right on the corner of our bedroom.
“There’s just no doubt in our mind … that it’s going to adversely affect our property,” continued Peterson, who mentioned that he is professionally certified for appraising real estate.
“We talk about what we call external obsolescence … [which] simply means that the value of property impacted by forces outside its property, which could be a gravel mine, it could be a number of industrial uses. There’s no doubt that our property will be devalued,” he said.
Frazer Peterson, a longtime member of the county P&Z, recused himself from that board’s deliberations and vote on the permit matter. Donna Peterson is Payette County treasurer.
Another P&Z member, Mary Cordova, testified during the May 27 appeal hearing that she had become aware of a possible procedural problem with the permit’s earlier approval — namely, that the flood plain hadn’t been considered.
“The county … in 2017 enacted the flood plain overlay zone. … The flood plain overlay zone was never considered in the decision of the Planning and Zoning Commission,” Cordova said. “It was not provided as a zone on the staff report … when clearly, it is in the flood plain. Nor was it provided public notice in advertising the public hearing.”
Payette Rocks spokesman Dave Williams told commissioners that Payette Rocks’ opposition to IRVCO’s permit was limited to a single concern: traffic volume.
“I crush about fifteen-thousand tons a month,” Williams said, referring to Payette Rocks’ own operation on Killebrew Drive. “I can crush five-hundred belly-dump loads a day, if I want to. ... So if we allow another pit to open up to do business exactly the way that I do, you’re doubling the traffic.”
Williams continued, “I’m running eight-hundred tons out of my pit right now, every day for the next two weeks.” He said 28 tons represents one truckload. It would therefore take approximately 29 truckloads to haul 800 tons.
“That’s just one project. Then I have fifteen-hundred loads coming out of there going to McCall,” Williams said.
Williams noted that IRVCO’s Wayne Irvin had testified at the P&Z hearing that the IRVCO gravel operation would supply IRVCO’s construction jobs only. If IRVCO were to hold to that limit, Williams conceded, “then that’s going to limit the traffic on the road.” Williams then added, “But if he’s starting up business like I’m doing my business, then that opens it up to just as much traffic as mine, if not more — because we’re getting bigger, things are growing around here, and everybody needs gravel.”