HAZELTON — It’s been a long road, but the work is done and only a few formalities remain. Jerome County and Hazelton have agreed on changes to the town’s impact area that will determine the direction of its future growth for the next decade.
And just up the road, Eden residents are taking a look at their own impact area.
Hazelton, population 800, is shifting its mile-wide impact area along Idaho 25 — now reaching from Valley Road east to the North Side Canal — to a 2.5-mile-by-3-mile area stretching south to Interstate 84. In addition, county commissioners, who met with the town’s City Council Wednesday at the last public hearing for the proposed changes, have agreed to rezone nearby areas outside the town’s impact area as AL, or limited agricultural — meaning no confined animal operations or subdivisions — and the area surrounding the 194 exchange on I-84 as commercial.
The town proposed a larger impact area several years ago, including the 194 exchange, but, in the end, voted for the smallest of its options.
Impact areas are areas contiguous to a town where growth and eventual annexation is expected to occur. State code dictates each town in Idaho review and make necessary changes to its area-of-impact agreement with the county every 10 years.
Eden, population 400, has proposed two options to the county; the first would expand its impact area from 5 square miles to just under 12 square miles, butting up against Hazelton’s impact area at Valley Road. The proposed boundaries would put Skeleton Butte inside the town’s impact area.
The second option would keep the impact area at 5 square miles, provided the county rezone the Skeleton Butte area north of I-84 for limited agriculture.
The University of Idaho recently looked at land near Skeleton Butte for its proposed $45 million Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment, riling neighbors. Light ag zones — whether in the county or in an impact area — would essentially act as a buffer surrounding the towns, Planning and Zoning Administrator Art Brown said. The zone north of the interstate would prohibit the university’s CAFE.
Neither town wants large livestock operations near the city limits, nor subdivisions that need to hook up to city services, Brown said.
“The towns share a school,” he said, “and if we’re not careful, we could have a large livestock operation come in next door.”
No zoning ordinances were in place before now to prevent that, Commissioner Charlie Howell said Thursday.