BLACKFOOT – The Area of Impact Agreement between the City of Blackfoot and Bingham County has turned into a quagmire as the Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commission voted yet again Wednesday to kick that can down the road.

Many concerned members of the community attended the meeting to voice their concerns surrounding the idea of reworking the 20-year-old agreement, with mixed feelings about the need for an up-to-date one.

Prefacing the hearing planned by the Bingham County P&Z, it was clarified that those wishing to make public comment would need to keep their points concise, unique to others’ complaints and concerns, and relevant to the matter at hand. Once the time was turned over to the public for the hearing, many members of the Groveland area were present and wanted to share their input on the potential ratification of a new agreement with the city of Blackfoot.

One by one, different county residents provided testimony that they are not in support of the county and city of Blackfoot signing a new AOI with each other. A large amount of the comments made surrounded the building standards and the need for any construction in the AOI being to city standards rather than have the same standards as the rest of the county. Other comments were about Groveland and its area being more and more city-like on its own. Comments in opposition would control the hearing before Ron Ramirez, chairman of the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission, had the opportunity to speak.

Ramirez first thanked the commission for providing him the opportunity to speak before addressing his points of information including the third invitation to hold a joint work session to hammer out any rough patches in the AOI agreement between the two bodies.

Afterward, Ramirez questioned the commission’s interest in moving forward on the 20-year-old agreement.

He acknowledged that others had made comments about the fact that the state of Idaho requiring an agreement does not mean that the city and county needed to rework the active agreement. Ramirez expressed that he came before the county P&Z to extend an olive branch and to attempt to achieve confirmation about a work session between the two commissions, but was not provided the luxury.

Olsen explained to Ramirez that the county P&Z has a work session scheduled for October where they will utilize the time to address the county residents’ concerns and make any alterations to the document before holding another hearing in November to approve or deny the changes and allow public comment.

The timeline will land any possible completion of the agreement into 2022, assuming that each of the steps from work session to county commissioners and city council approval. The Blackfoot Planning and Zoning Commission had approved the version in question in April and have been waiting for the county to work through the same material.

During the near four months that the city P&Z has waited for the county counterpart to approve or deny the agreement, the Bingham County Planning and Zoning Commission has had to cancel multiple hearing dates where they planned to discuss the topic with the most recent cancellation due to not having a quorum as they had been seeking a replacement for a vacant seat on the commission.

Ramirez expressed that he felt rebuffed following the meeting, but wanted to ensure that the members of the commission were invited to the Blackfoot Planning and Zoning Commission’s work session on Sept. 14.

The county P&Z voted in favor of working through the agreement in their next work session and reopen the public hearing in November as Olsen had mentioned. The agreement between the two municipal entities continues to be a focal point for many county residents.

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