Potential water rights issues was a common theme at Thursday night’s Jefferson County Planning and Zoning meeting, that led to the postponement on a decision regarding a preliminary and final plat amendment for a three-lot subdivision located to the north of 118 N. 3500 E.
Kody Thompson with Thompson Engineering spoke on behalf of applicant Jose Nunez who indicated that the application has already been approved by Eastern Idaho Public Health, the proposed private road from the lots to 3500 E. was approved by Jefferson County Road and Bridge Administrator and surface water rights have been acquired.
Thompson said there will be an easement on the canal and irrigation water will be supplied via private ditch.
Other than Thompson, no one spoke in favor of the proposal. Luke Hicks was the only resident to speak in neutrality on the matter.
Hicks explained that he is on the Burgess Canal Board of Directors. He clarified that the ditch is not supplied by the Randall Canal, it is instead a private ditch directly supplied by the Burgess Canal.
“I believe the landowner is somewhat confused by their source,” he said.
Six residents spoke in opposition of the proposal, each citing potential water issues with the construction of the lots or worries about the easement and their ability to clean the ditch.
“Are we going to have the access to be able to continue to clean that ditch and maintain that ditch,” Paul Field said. “Somebody needs to instruct somebody on the water rights issue so I would hope that you would table this until everything concerned about water rights is taken care of.”
Brent Call said his concern with the proposed subdivision is he rents the land that is being considered for sell. He said the proposed lots are in the middle of the expanse of land, therefore making the remaining land less valuable. He also pointed out that the lots will likely be an individual well which concerns him.
“They took the middle right out of it,” he said.
The four other residents opposed to the subdivision said so via letter.
“Has Mr. Nunez researched how neighbor’s wells will be affected? Has Mr. Nunez done an impact study? If Mr. Nunez does not have an impact study we propose this subdivision be delayed,” James and Donna Mays stated in a letter.
“Water is a major issue on the ditch because of our having little water in the canal in our area,” Gary Gneiting stated.
The following statement was issued and signed by numerous residents in the area.
“The ditch to the north of the subdivision is the lifeblood of our property we are concerned that we will be denied access to maintain and clean the ditch, we must have assurance that the ditch supporting the water for our 73.3 acres will always remain and have the right to maintain it.”
Before further discussion could occur, Planning and Zoning Attorney Paul Ziel suggested that they move into an executive session citing subsection f.
“To communicate with legal counsel for the public agency to discuss the legal ramifications of and legal options for pending litigation, or controversies not yet being litigated but imminently likely to be litigated,” Ziel said.
Under Idaho Code, an executive session needs to be noticed on an agenda prior to a meeting unless there is an emergency.
“I do believe it was proper for us to go into executive session,” he said.
After a brief executive session, Ziel recommended that the commissioners table the matter for a future meeting, considering information submitted was late but details of the information is important in the decision making process.
“I advise them that the most prudent course of action is to table this discussion for the rest of the evening for this new information that was submitted to be disseminated to the commission and made available to the public so there can be a full and fair hearing,” Ziel said.
With that the commissioners unanimously approved tabling the discussion until the December meeting.