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Planning and zoning

Mini-Cassia residents packed the Burley City Council Chambers during a city planning and zoning hearing in January.

BURLEY — The Burley Planning and Zoning Commission turned down a city request Jan. 10 for a recommendation to rewrite language in an ordinance that would have smoothed the way for the city’s use of eminent domain laws.

After a nearly two-hour meeting in a packed City Council chambers, commissioners Scott Hansen, Trevor Reno and Jorge Rodriquez voted to deny a recommendation to approve the changes to the City Council.

Commissioners Mike Atchley and Richard Randklev voted against it. Commissioner Dennis Dexter abstained.

“The way this is written, no one is safe,” Burley resident Carrie Harwood said. “This ordinance should scare everyone.”

Sam Diddle, an attorney for Franklin Building Supply, spoke in opposition of the proposed amendments saying an eminent domain lawsuit against the company filed by the city was dismissed immediately after the company’s attorney requested a copy of the city ordinances.

He said the amendments would pave the wave for the city’s use of eminent domain laws to take property from the company for a road on the east side of its building that would connect the Walmart parking lot with Third Street North where a stop light exist on Overland Avenue.

“The city found out that Franklin Building Supply would fight them taking the road,” Diddle said.

Two days later, the city dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice so they could clean up the city ordinance before refiling it, he said.

City Engineer Bryan Reiter said Franklin originally wanted the road, too, in the early planning stages and produced an email verifying his statement.

Diddle said the company was being “blind-sided” with the old email and said it was written by a former manager who did not have authority with the company to make the statement.

While City Attorney David Shirley outlined the ordinance changes, no one spoke in favor of the project. Several people spoke neutrally and several spoke in opposition, including local residents.

Shirley said the amendments to the ordinance were not specific to the Franklin road.

Many people expressed concern that while the city said the road would be built to increase safety, that it would actually make the area unsafe with a narrow road, blind corners and a residential area that would encounter more traffic on Third Street North.

Burley resident Wes Patterson, who lives in the neighborhood behind Walmart, said the city was trying to circumvent the planning and zoning commission’s power with the proposal.

Harwood said the ordinance was a broad brush stroke that covered the city’s back in case anything written in the city ordinance would cause a stumbling block during an eminent domain lawsuit.

Burley resident Logan Harris said he’s in the construction business, and he worried how the new road would affect his access to Franklin Building Supply. Others at the meeting agreed.

Burley resident Tom Tolness, along with other residents, suggested changing traffic patterns coming out of Walmart on Overland Avenue to allow only right turns.

But Reiter said only the Idaho Transportation Department could make those changes.

Commissioner Randklev said he did not believe the city’s intentions were solely to smooth the way for the Franklin road, but the changes would clarify the ordinance and help the city in other ways as it continues to grow.

Commissioner Atchley said he was not opposed to the language changes but thought the Planning and Zoning Commission could recommend the city commission more studies on the safety of the road.

The commission did not agree to provide the study recommendation to the City Council.

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