By Emily Jones
Idaho State Journal
POCATELLO Robin-area residents say their civil rights
were violated when a gravel pit was opened near their home
without their knowledge or a required conditional use permit
two years ago.
In what Bannock County Planning and Development Director
Tim Shurtleff calls an honest mistake by his department's
former Director Terry Bailey, state officials were given permission
to operate a gravel pit near Arimo without a conditional use
In a 2000 letter to Idaho Transportation Department officials,
Planning and Development officials said the state was not
required to obtain local permits, and that the county would
not require one.
Now, Planning and Development officials are attempting to
remedy the situation by requiring the state to apply for a
permit for the already-operational pit, Commissioner Jim Guthrie
said this week.
"This situation is not the one you would pick, but it's
the situation we're in now and we're trying to make the best
of it," Guthrie said.
Idaho Transportation Department officials have filed a Conditional
Use Permit Application, including provisions for a crusher
and hot mix plant.
Engineer Ed Bala said there are no plans to use a hot mix
plant or crusher at the site, but he wants the possibility
to be open. The pit is currently used only when there is a
state project nearby.
Robin resident Dan Williams said when he first heard gravel
would be mined in the area nearly three years ago, he checked
with Planning and Development, and was told there would be
a public hearing and posted sign before any permit was issued.
Later, Williams said he spoke with the county commissioners,
and Guthrie set up a meeting where state officials explained
how the mine worked, and listened to resident concerns.
Williams said he wanted the county to stop the mine because
it lacks proper permits.
"I feel (Guthrie) should have stopped the project,"
Williams said. "He had the chance to do the right thing."
Guthrie said he thought the issue was resolved after that
meeting. After the issue resurfaced, and county officials
did some research, however, Shurtleff said the county will
now require the state to go through the permitting process.
All gravel pits in Bannock County are required to have a
conditional use permit, Guthrie said.
"We took the position that (a conditional use permit)
was needed," Shurtleff said. "We're processing it
just as if it was a new application."
Bannock County Planning and Zoning Board held a public hearing
Feb. 19 on the proposed permit and a study session on the
matter Wednesday. They will vote on the proposal at their
next meeting March 17.
Bala says the state applied for a conditional use permit
in 2000 before receiving permission from the county to move
Bala said Monday that he is happy to comply with county requirements,
and that conditional use permits are common for gravel pits.
"We're not asking to be exempt from any standards,"
Because the pit has already been mined, Williams says it's
too late to hold a fair hearing.
"We think the deck is stacked against us," Williams
said. "We feel it's illegally running in the first place."
If any party is unsatisfied with the Planning and Development
decision, it can be appealed, first to the county commissioners,
then to district court.
If it is appealed to the commissioners, Guthrie said he and
the other commissioners are bound to review only the information
presented to Planning and Zoning.
"Our simple charge is to decide whether (Planning and
Zoning) made a mistake," he said. "We have to keep
our opinions at bay."
Williams says he doesn't want the gravel pit to continue
operating for several reasons. The pit causes dust, and traffic
is a concern, Williams said.
The pit is located at the bottom of a hill, with a blind
corner at the other side, he said. When the pit is in operation,
semi-trucks travel in front of Marsh Valley High School throughout
the day, posing a possible risk to students, he said.
Williams's son, Dusty Williams, lives next to the pit, and
says dust and noise are a concern when the pit is in operation.
He worries property values will decrease.
Bala says he hopes he has addressed concerns in the permit
application. In the application, the state offers to pay the
Bannock County Sheriff's Department overtime money to police
traffic on the area, and to control dust using magnesium chloride.