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Appeal hearing set on gravel pit permit

January 17, 2013

Boundary County Commissioners will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m. Tuesday, February 19, n the conference room of the Extension Office behind the Boundary County Courthouse, to accept public comment on two appeals of Conditional Use Permit 11-063 granted Tungsten Holdings, Inc., to operate a gravel pit on a seven acre parcel, RP65N01W200150A, located 1.6 miles south of Porthill on the Farm to Market Road.


Patrick and Ada Gardiner and Bryan and Sara Ferguson are appealing the decision of the Boundary County Planning and Zoning Commission to grant that permit in a continuing battle that's been going on since 2005.


The application was initially submitted that year as a special use permit, and county commissioners, imposing several conditions and restrictions, overruled the planning and zoning commission's recommendation to deny the permit, granting approval and allowing the pit to go into production.


Pat and Ada Gardiner, cattle breeders who operate near the site, filed an appeal, citing, among other things, potential adverse effects to their herd as well as the potential damage to their water wells caused by blasting.


That appeal went all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of the Gardiners, not so much on the merits of there case but because of inadequacies in the county zoning ordinance in effect at the time, which made no specific mention of gravel pits, but allowed consideration of any use proposed that was not a use by right, permitted use or conditional use as a special use. The Supreme Court ruled that the language was too vague to constitute meaningful land use planning and overturned the commissioner's decision on the permit and shutting down operation of the pit.


At the time, work was already underway on drafting a new county comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance, in which the placement of gravel pits and mines in the various zones were spelled out. In the agriculture/forestry zone district, which the parcel in question is zoned, such use was listed as a conditional use. Shortly after the new ordinance was adopted, Tungsten Holdings again made application, and the planning and zoning permit was approved, despite the same objections by the Gardiners and additional objection from Bryan and Sara Ferguson, who had purchased a 10-acre residential lot from Tungsten Holdings near the site and built a home based on perceived assurances in covenants and restrictions that attached to their land that no such use would be allowed in the un-platted subdivision developed by Tungsten around the pit subsequent to the initial issuance of the special use permit.


Further information on this application is available at the Planning and Zoning Office, Room 16 of the Courthouse, and the application and appeals are available for public review. Information is also available by calling (208) 267-7212.


Anyone requiring special accommodation due to handicap or disability should contact the planning office at least two days prior to the hearing.
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