P&Z Meeting reopens PUD discussion

The Blackfoot Planning and Zoning Commission reopened the Planned Unit Development item they had originally voted down in the previous meeting. It would eventually pass 2-1 with two abstaining and two absent.

BLACKFOOT – Planning and Zoning meetings in the City of Blackfoot continue to draw a crowd as a large agenda would be addressed Tuesday evening.

The commission was to approve and hear facts and findings from their previous month’s meeting, where the members sat almost evenly divided over Kendall Murdoch’s proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD).

Murdoch platted and had drafted the look of what would have been a 55-and-older community located on Camas Street between Riverton Road and McAdoo Street with access off of Knox Street. The location was purchased by Murdoch and has historically been used as pasture for horses and small groups of cattle or sheep because it continues to be R1-A (Residential Agricultural) in the city limits.

The biggest objection to the property being approved for the PUD came from those who claimed to want to keep the area agricultural and felt that adding in a large housing development in the area would hurt their property rights. The previous meeting ended with a denial of the PUD and Murdoch was going to exercise his right to appeal to the Blackfoot City Council at the next meeting and possibly explore any other legal options he had at his disposal.

However, when it came time to approve the facts and findings of the PUD decision, a motion was made to reopen the item and discuss and attempt to make a different decision. Ron Ramirez would make the motion to reopen the vote with JoAnne Thomas seconding it. When put to a roll call vote, commissioner Merv Dolan abstained from voting, Vice Chair Debbie Barlow voted against,Ramirez and Thomas voted in favor, and then Chairperson Marilyn Jefferis swayed back and forth before deciding to vote in favor of reopening the discussion. Commissioners Rocky Moldenhauer and Dine Smith were absent from the meeting.

With the item reopened, the discussion went back and forth about differences in opinion about the property. Out of the gate, Barlow made a point to address a phrase in the city code that would eliminate the property as being viable, but was corrected by P&Z Administrator Kurt Hibbert regarding that passage and the next sub-points in it being why a PUD is considered legal.

Because the land is zoned R1-R, it is R1 first and foremost. With this distinction, the code indicates that it is acceptable to install a higher density PUD in the location, meaning that despite the sizing of the lots being smaller than what is normal in an R1 zone, it would be counter-intuitive to try to block development in the city limits to one-acre lots to keep it more agricultural.

That became the point of contention, whether the land owned by Murdoch should be kept as R1R or R1 only. The discussion would be moot as the code was explained more in depth with aid from city Attorney Garrett Sandow and Hibbert. The new information came to a conclusion and Ramirez moved once again to approve the PUD with Thomas seconding this motion as well. Dolan and Jefferis abstained from voting while Barlow was in opposition. The motion carried with a 2-1 vote with two abstaining and two absent.

Murdoch will no longer need to address the city council for an appeal, but now will be in front of them for approval or denial of the recommendation coming from the P&Z.