Washington County P&Z recommends airport rezone

Above are aerial views of the Weiser Airport. Bottom, the yellow line represents city-owned property. Top, the red indicates the current FAA fenced area, the portion that has been recommended to be rezoned D-2 industrial. The two triangular yellow pieces represent city property that is currently being used for agricultural purposes. Photo courtesy of City of Weiser.
Philip A. Janquart
The Washington County Planning and Zoning board of commissioners recently recommended for approval a rezone of the Weiser Airport.
 The decision now lies with county commissioners Nate Marvin, Lyndon Haines, and Gordon Wilkerson. The request will appear on an upcoming agenda, with commissioners meeting weekly, on Mondays.
 “It’s city owned property that is in the county; that’s why it went to the county planning and zoning and their recommendation then goes to the commissioners,” explained City Clerk Natasha McDaniel.
 The request for rezone, from A-1 agricultural to D-2 industrial, came from airport Manager Jim Metzger and the City of Weiser who initially sought rezone of the entire airport property, which included ag ground that is currently being leased for farming.
 Planning and Zoning board members, however, voted to approve the rezone within the current FAA fenced area, allowing the ag ground to continue being farmed.
 “We showed them where the FAA installed fence was, that already defines what’s being used as the airport right now,” said McDaniel who, along with Metzger, gave a presentation to the board on June 18. “There is already an existing fence and all the setbacks and everything are already completely done and is already included in the airport’s master plan. It was deemed that the area is enough for expansion and also to utilize everything that is going on out there right now.”
 That includes a crop dusting operation and a flight instruction business, along with several private hangars.
 McDaniel added that “The reason we wanted to rezone it is because it is an airport and it should be industrial.”
 The question of a rezone came about when the Weiser River Animal Shelter and Rescue secured a building on the northeast corner of airport property from which they plan to operate their shelter. Several different businesses have occupied the building, which has been sitting vacant for several years now and is currently used by the airport for storage.
 The structure is owned by Frank Thompson, according to McDaniel.
 “It all started with the animal shelter,” Metzger told the Signal American. “There was a small project started to take that section of land out and rezone just that little section of land and suddenly I had this epiphany and thought, ‘Well, wait a minute … the whole airport is in the wrong zone.’”
 Metzger said board members did not want to rezone the entire area, so he proposed rezoning the current fenced area and the board apparently felt more comfortable with that idea. The building the animal shelter wants to utilize is within the fenced area.
 Metzger said the airport was inadvertently zoned A-1 agricultural back in either 1972 or 1973, though building permits have been nonetheless approved since that time, despite the zoning. 
 “They just goofed up and left the airport agricultural, which it is certainly not,” he said.
 Since the discovery was made, it meant that technically no further buildings could be given permits on the property until the change is made.
 As for the Weiser River Animal Shelter and Rescue, spokesman John Aegerter said his group had to put a hold on efforts to move forward with their project until the question of zoning was fleshed out. If approved by county commissioners, the rezone would mean the organization will be able to continue its work.
 “It’s just one more step we got through,” Aegerter said of the board’s recommendation for approval. “We have two more steps now. The next one is commissioners’ decision and then we have the FAA.”
 He explained that, previously unbeknownst to him, the project would need the FAA’s stamp of approval.
 “The fact that the FAA has a certain amount of control over the airport, the city now has to get the airport to release the FAA control over that part of the property where we want to operate. I’m not surprised, but fortunately it doesn’t have a lot of effect on our plans.”
 The process, however, will take time and Aegerter said there are no estimates on just how long it could take.
 “I’ve only had people guess at it and they said it will be a while,” he said. “This has to be done through the city and next week I’ll call them and ask how long they think it might take. There is nothing we can do other than to call and see how it’s going.”


Signal American

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Weiser, ID 83672
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