Meeting Minutes
February 27, 2017


  • Kelly Aberasturi
  • Chad Bell
  • Tammy deWeerd
  • John Evans
  • Bob Henry
  • Brad Holton
  • Nathan Leigh
  • Stan Ridgeway
  • Joe Stear

Staff and Guests

  • Ron Abramovich – Natural Resource Conservation Service
  • Doug Hardman – Director of Ada County Emergency Management
  • Dave Schorzman – Director of Canyon County Emergency Management
  • Bill Larsen – Treasure Valley Partnership

Open Discussion

Mayor Chad Bell welcomed everybody to Star.

Today we will have Ada and Canyon County Emergency Management Directors as well as NRCS to talk about the prospect of flooding based on the winter we have had.

Chad said the City of Star is growing fast. Residential growth has outpaced commercial growth, but they are starting to get commercial interest in the city. They have a couple big-box type stores and a grocery that are looking at coming into Star. This is encouraging for them as they are real heavy in residential development. Their tax role shows that over 80% is residential. The population is slightly over 9,000. Even this last month with the weather, they sold 32 residential permits.

They do have one small apartment complex going in just up the road. That was fun to get their first apartment complex and they are in the middle of public hearings on these.

Tammy suggested we have a discussion about land development, apartments and growth in general. She thinks people don’t really grasp that growth is here. We can tone it down and then it will go to Kuna or another city. The growth pressure in the treasure valley is here. How can we better articulate growth and the benefits of growth? How can we assure our citizens that growth won’t be the demise of the treasure valley?

We are all getting slammed by the perceptions of the citizens that we have this pro-growth mentality. We embrace residential growth but we are not out recruiting for it. Kelly said it becomes an issue for Counties, Highway Districts and others because the infrastructure is not there. We do not have the roads to handle the traffic we have now. We have to start looking at infrastructure before we go much further with growth.

Kelly continued that growth is going to happen and he gets that. He just came back from Phoenix, AZ and you talk about being proactive in getting highways and roads build, they have done a good job. You can go all around the impact area of Phoenix on two different freeway systems. Here we have one road, one major thoroughfare. We need to look at infrastructure as part of what is going on with growth.

Tammy added that this has to be a part of the conversation. However, we are a property rights rich state. There is very little to deny an application on. You can have your roads at a service level F and unless you can put on some nexus, that a particular development is going to be the demise of the roadway, you can’t do much, because it is the accumulated traffic that has already caused the road to be that service level.

John said we are constrained by the statutes we have. A lot of people don’t understand that we have the public service expectations and the system we have in Idaho to fund Cities and Counties is reliant on property and sales taxes. Unless those components of the budget increase, we can’t keep up with the service demand. The only way for a good conservative State to increase that, is to have more value or people in the system contributing. You grow or you shrivel up.

Bob said as long as there have been Cities; there has been opposition to growth. When the growth happens, the people around the growth don’t like it. We can put down bullet points on a subdivision or an apartment and those same issues will be brought up in the opposition to growth. John added that it is getting exasperated to some extent because the people coming in are more retirees.

John asked the group what kind of pressure they are getting for housing for low-income, migrant and refugee populations. They have a 64 unit project in Garden City which they got 146 calls for service last year to their police department. He is thinking about dropping the hammer on it. They have a chronic nuisance ordinance and the hammer is charging the owners criminally.

Bob said they had consultant group come in and do a health assessment of their community. There are three things they are struggling with. Those are public transportation, affordable housing, and a food desert. A food desert means there are areas in the community where there is no convenient access to grocery stores.

Part of his State of the City address is going to be centered on these issues. How do we address those and admit that government can’t do it and shouldn’t do it.

Brad said the infrastructure problem with the roads is big. But, one of the other things that is frustrating to him because he feels it more painfully that anyone in the room is going through the NPDES permit starting at 0 to a full blown treatment plant. You go through all that, then Joe Q buys 80 acres out in the County and starts a subdivision. They don’t have to worry about infrastructure, because they are all on a private well and have a septic system. He has been working with the Lower Boise Watershed Council and has brought up septic tanks. Up until then, there was not any attention being given to them. Septic Tanks in the valley do produce a measurable impact on water quality and we are asleep at the wheel in this regard. Kelly agreed.

Tammy said the concern about those county subs on their own treatment facility is when they fail; the only solution is the city. They had to go to a county sub and make them bring all their stuff up to code. The city was the only solution the Health Department or DEQ would accept. It took seven years of intense staff time.

Bob said they have one of these right now and it has been in the media. There is ecoli coming from septic tanks, but don’t know which one because of the geography of the area. They think this area will have to come into the city. The cost is prohibitive for them to do it themselves.

Brad said we are the only group that has the experience to speak to this with authority to the State. Literally, we would help the future of the Treasure Valley if we somehow address this.

Kelly said they (Owyhee County) solved the problem. They said they are not going to go down that road where we take farm ground out in the middle of nowhere and turn it into a subdivision. They have a water problem in Owyhee County and are really concerned about wells having water.

There was a subdivision right next to him and the USDA had to come and put in a water treatment facility because of pollutants. The developer bailed on it.

Tammy asked how the other people did their budget hearings. From how you start gathering your information, how you do your workshops to budget hearings.

John said he prepares a budget and submits it to council. Bob said they have no workshops and have a couple of meetings where the Director stands up to present their budget. What they are presenting is what they have agreed to. All the negotiation is behind the scenes. When it comes to council and public hearings, the Directors are all supportive of where we are going.

Tammy said she had to do a balance but doesn’t know if they are going to approve an increase. Members described what they do in preparing budgets and there was a good discussion around this question.

Nathan said he is a member of the Association of Cites Municipal Water Users Group. He passed out minutes of a recent conference call. AIC is working with the Surface Water Coalition on potential future legislation on water rights.

John said he had talked with Speaker Bedke on this issue. The Speaker made it pretty clear that Cities were going to be protected against arbitrary water calls.

Greg said ITD is pretty difficult to work with when it comes to building along their State Highways. Most of their commercial development is going to come along State Hwy. 44. They have a lot of business that wants to come to Star and are running into a problem of getting access.

ITD wanted St. Alphonsus, which is right next to city hall, to have to use city hall’s access and didn’t want to grant even one access to their facility. ITD denied it at the staff level three times before he was able to get someone to sit down and talk with him.

Tammy said they had to get their property owners together along with transportation entities and have a conversation that put together a transportation plan that was complimentary to their land-use plan. She believes this is the easiest way because you can get all people to the table and then you can institutionalize the plans.

Greg said he has poured through the IDAPA rules and doesn’t think their access rules apply within city limits as they do outside the city limits. They are going to meeting with ITD to start this conversation.

Snow Pack, Water and Emergency Management in the Treasure Valley

Ron Abramovich with NRCS said there is a good healthy snow pack and showed many charts that highlighted the snow pack in many of the watersheds. We are from 118% of snow pack on Bogus Basin to a high of 165% of snow pack on Atlanta Summit.

The following link is the NRCS Idaho’s website that provides reports on snow pack and water supply.

Brad said if he understands what the Idaho Water Resource Board is trying to do with water rights on the Boise water shed, what Ron just said, they will let go for flood control all of our water rights in the spring. Ron said he was not very knowledgeable about this release issue.

Doug Hardman handed out a couple of handouts and indicated Ada County’s Emergency Management Website is:

He pointed to their flood preparedness page. They had contracted with the Corps. of Engineers to some specialized mapping for them. This is an interactive map showing flows on the Boise River.

Doug said they will coordinate with ACHD on sand and sandbags. There is a pile of sand in Star. He recommends that the cities along the river to invest in sandbags as well. There is a run on sandbags and it would be a good idea to get those when you can. They will be dumping a load of sand at the Ada County Fairgrounds.

Dave Schorzman with Canyon County Emergency Management said Idaho Code, Title 46 Chapter 10 deals with the legal authority for declaring disasters. You can also declare a disaster if you think one is about to happen. Mayors and Chairs of the Board of County Commissioners have the authority to declare a disaster for seven days. After that, they do a forum of the elected officials to declare a disaster for a longer time.

For cities, this is to activate your internal policies for the most part. A lot of time this allows you to bypass your bid processes and other things. There is a little bit of disconnect sometimes when a city declares a disaster, it doesn’t mean anything to the State. Your best life line is to call the county emergency management office and let them know the city has declared a disaster/emergency.

The State calls each request for assistance through the county. The county needs to request help to the State and there are a couple of ways to do this. First is a mission assignment. The higher levels provide the asset and it usually comes with a cost sharing agreement. Usually from the State to the local levels, the cost sharing agreement comes in at 50-50. A project agreement is where the local level has the assets, but want some money to help pay for it. In the case of snow removal, we have the snow plows and the people and the request to the State is to cost share for these costs.

Disaster declarations only support public infrastructure, not private property. Very rarely does the federal government step in and pay for private property.

Kelly said for their Soda Fire in Owyhee County, they did file the disaster declaration and “might” see some action from the federal government in the next couple weeks. It has been two years. If you do declare a declaration and request funds, it is going to take a while to get those funds.

Meeting Adjourned.