Weiser P&Z approves permit request for new townhouses at old Ridley’s site

The Weiser Planning & Zoning Commission, following a public hearing on Monday, unanimously approved a request by Mark Ridley, through CJM Properties L.P., for a conditional use permit to  construct 18 new townhouses in Weiser.
 The proposed development would be at the former site of Ridley’s Family Markets grocery store at East First and Park streets.
 With P&Z approval, it will now come before the Weiser City Council for consideration, possibly as early as the next regular council meeting scheduled for Monday, June 13, according to Weiser City Clerk David Tate.
The Project
 Plans include the construction of 18 townhouse-style apartments consisting of three buildings, with six units each, all facing Second Street to the east, according to conceptual drawings provided by CJM. 
 The rear of the buildings, which consist of garages and driveways, would face west toward First Street.
 Each unit would be 1,500-square feet plus a two-car garage and would be available for rent, but not purchase.
   “We are continually told, when asked, that residential is what this community needs,” Ridley told commissioners during Monday’s public hearing. “This is the spot for it. We spent a lot of time coming up with a plan we thought would be a good fit for this community, hopefully fill a need, but also not stick out. 
 “We truly tried to develop something that would be a positive fit in that part of town. I’m not saying any plan is perfect or will please everyone, but we are proud of what we have come up with and are looking forward to some more feedback from the community.”
 Mark Ridley is the Director of Operations for Ridley’s Family Markets chain of grocery stores. CJM Properties is the real estate portion of the family-owned company.
 The Ridley family has been working the past several years to find a use for the former site of its Weiser store.
 The building’s roof collapsed during the winter of 2016-17 when Idaho received record snow falls, bringing down many structures throughout the state, including Weiser’s bowling alley. 
 Ridley’s, the only grocery store in the city at the time, ultimately rebuilt at its current site located at 1401 E. Sixth St.
 The previous building was eventually razed, leaving only a concrete pad and several large piles of earth on the north end.
Land Swap
 CJM’s plans include a land swap agreement with the development’s closest neighbor, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church located at 106 E. Liberty, on the southwest corner of East First and Liberty streets. 
 The church currently owns the property on the southeast corner of Liberty and Second streets. Under the deal, ownership of that particular parcel would transfer to CJM and would be the location for one of the development’s three buildings. 
 St. Luke’s would in return receive property on the north side of the church, which would be repaved and used for parking.
 “When Mark Ridley approached me a few months ago about the initial land swap, at that time, I thought what an awesome opportunity,” said St. Luke’s Junior Warden Curtis Kissell. “If you look on Facebook, everyday there is someone looking for someplace to rent. I think this is going to benefit the community.”
Kissell said the increased traffic from renters doesn’t pose any concerns.
 “The church does realize that during construction, and after construction, traffic will increase but it’s nothing the church was not used to when Ridley’s was there,” he said. “This is 18 families, possibly 36 cars. It’s a lot better than two or three hundred cars running through there on any given day.”
 St. Luke’s Priest, Blake Coats, also expressed support for the development.
 “We just think this will be a great addition to our community,” he said. “It’s going to look much better than the current memorial to the disaster of 2017 and housing is an issue for all of us. It’s going to be a plus; it’s going to look great.”
 Newly appointed P&Z Commissioner Tony Edmondson expressed support for the project.
 “I would like to thank them (the Ridley family) for providing this additional housing in the community,” he said. “I think as far as location is concerned, being a block or two from the city park, too, all makes good use of resources in that area.”
 There were no opponents of the project present during the public hearing, and no written comments submitted to commissioners.


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