It’s a time of increased growth in Jefferson County, and particularly in the Rigby and Ririe areas.
Ririe is looking to head off that growth with a number of new planning and zoning ordinances this year, said Sharon Parry, Ririe city planner. She said the city council and mayor are trying to promote what they are terming “good growth.”
“Ririe is doing great,” Parry said. “People have noticed Ririe and the opportunities that are there.”
At least three ordinances planned for council consideration in early 2020 are intended to prevent problems arising from growth, Parry indicated. Those ordinances — addressing old plats, cell phone towers and cargo containers — are listed on a rough timeline she presented to council members Jan. 14. Here’s what Parry said she anticipates each of those to do if approved by the council:
Cell phone towers
When emergency responders drive out to the Ririe and Heise areas, it can be difficult to communicate due to a lack of towers in the area.
That’s according to Central Fire Chief Carl Anderson. Anderson said repeaters, the devices that allow for radio communication between fire departments and law enforcement, are often put on cell phone towers, allowing for broader communication.
Anderson said if a tower came to Ririe, it would benefit Central Fire, Idaho Falls Fire Department, Madison Fire Department and law enforcement.
“We certainly could use a tower out there,” Anderson said.
Parry said no towers are currently coming to Ririe as far as she knows. However, they could, and she said Ririe officials should be prepared if that happens.
“Right now, there is no cell tower ordinance, so if a carrier were to want to come in and place a cell tower, we’d have to say ‘We don’t know,’” Parry said.
Parry said a variance, defined as a request to deviate from current zoning requirements, could be used to allow a cell phone tower to be placed. She said that would not be ideal.
“A variance should be used in a very limited way, when there’s unusual circumstances,” she said.
She said the ordinance would provide clear guidance on which zone or zones would be appropriate for a cell tower. She said safety and coverage would also be considered for placement of towers.
Cargo container ordinance
Cargo containers are a cheap storage solution. For Parry, it’s not a solution that belongs in Ririe.
“(A cargo container is) an industrial looking application for storage that does not belong in a quaint charming town with expanding commercial and definitely residential areas,” Parry said.
Parry, a former Idaho Falls City Council member, said she tried to implement a similar ordinance in Idaho Falls. She said Ririe does not currently have a problem with cargo containers, but said the ordinance would be primarily preventative.
“There’s limited circumstances existing now, those would be saved out,” Parry said.
Parry said that ordinance has been pushed aside for the time being to make way for more pressing matters, but said it will be considered by the council this year.
Old plats ordinance
City councils’ approval of a plat typically gives a developer the go-ahead to develop land. However, that does not mean the developer will always do so. Parry said in Ririe, there is one preliminary subdivision plat approved years ago and never built that could be outdated.
She said to avoid having property owners begin development only to be denied in the process, Ririe’s ordinance could have city officials notify landowners when their plat expires. It would also define when that expiration date would be.
“There’s a very definite need to make sure that the due process of those landowners that have an old plat is well-met,” Parry said.
She said through the years, standards change, so a plat approved 50 years ago would not meet the standards of 2020. She said like the cargo container ordinance, there is no inciting reason for regulating old plats.
“It’s more just preventative,” she said. “There’s plenty of preventative ordinances.”
Parry said Ririe City Council will also consider updates to zoning ordinances this year.