County P&Z considers Midvale rezone

Philip A. Janquart
The Washington County Planning and Zoning board of commissioners held a workshop on Tuesday, Aug. 29 to discuss a rezone request for property off Highway 95, at the base of Midvale hill.
 The roughly two-hour meeting was open to the public, but no comments were taken. 
 The meeting was intended to discuss a potential rezone of a 30-acre parcel of fallow ag ground owned by Fairchild Farms, LLC and where Steel National, LLC wants to build a commercial park that would be developed in three phases.
 It would start with a ranch store, convenience store, and fueling station that would accommodate semi-trucks in the first phase. A tire store, truck wash, RV storage, and RV park, as well as a motel is planned through subsequent phases.
 The board of commissioners is tasked with deciding whether it should recommend the parcel for rezone from A1 agricultural to C1 commercial and is working with Steel National to get a clearer picture of the details surrounding its plans and scrutinizing specific aspects the county sees as potential obstacles to a positive recommendation.
 Despite the recommendation, Washington County’s three elected commissioners will make the final decision on the rezone request.
 Some of the concerns expressed by the board included traffic, turn lanes on Highway 95, water availability, safety, noise and light pollution, and decreased property values, which is of significant concern for the six residences that would be directly adjacent to the development along Sage Creek Road.
 The sale and subsequent development are contingent upon the rezone.
 Steel National owner Tom Gibbons, a Midvale resident, specializes in metal buildings and storage units and has experience developing gas stations in other communities.
 “We take the project all the way from the idea to the finished project,” he told the Signal American last week.
 Gibbons said the proposed project, located just south of Midvale, would be the first with a gas station his company would own.
 “We’ve done quite a few of them, but we will own this one, he said adding that he believes Midvale-area residents should have a more convenient option for buying fuel and other necessities, though it is not a view held by some county residents.
 Midvale Mayor Brian Graham said he could not comment on the issue or how he thought the proposed commercial park might impact the city.
 “I’ll tell you like I’ve told everybody else: the city is not involved in it,” he said. “It’s outside our area of impact. I sympathize with the people who have to live next to it, but we can’t enter into any kind of a land use issue that’s outside our city limits, so we don’t have any kind of a statement on it.”
 Gibbons said he considered at least one other property, but that a deal with the landowners was not possible. He noted that people in the area have expressed support for the project, enough to convince him to move forward with plans.
 “We saw a need and started talking to people. We’ve been looking at property for a couple years now; then this piece of ground came up. We did look at a piece on the other side of Midvale, but the people that owned it couldn’t sell it at that time. But … we started talking and everyone I talked to out by me – I live about 12 miles outside of town; I have a ranch there – and they’re, like, ‘yeah, we need it. We need a gas station; that’d be great,’ so that’s where the idea came from.”
 Following the Aug. 29 workshop, Gibbons said that he and his team have already started putting together documents, including a map, that include more information and details about the project through build-out.
 “They want phases described; they want square footages; they want layouts, so we are doing that this morning,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s still in progress, but we are doing it.”
 Gibbons said that in his experience, a development usually comes down to negotiation on the details, which are reflected in a development agreement.
 The Washington County P&Z wants more details so it can make a recommendation based on best-available information and in consideration of zoning law and resident feedback.
 “I’ve built in every county in the Valley,” Gibbons said. “The one we did in Valley County, when we built that, they had an agreement with us and they came back and said, ‘Ok, we want you to landscape this; we want you to have your offsets this far out; we want the buildings off the road this far,’ and they came back to us with that, and they wanted a little bigger of a setback, so we negotiated and everything was fine.”
 Washington County P&Z board President Ron Jaeger said the issue will most likely be addressed again this month and that another public hearing could potentially be scheduled for October.



Signal American

18 E. Idaho St.
Weiser, ID 83672
PH: (208) 549-1717
FAX: (208) 549-1718

Connect with Us