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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of June 19 - 25, 2002


Land Board arguments fall flat

A district court judge last week told the state it couldnít operate outside local land use laws.

It was a good decision.

The State Land Board had sued Blaine County for insisting that a gravel pit to be developed on state land comply with county land use ordinances. The gravel pit was to be in Ohio Gulch near hundreds of homes. Residents would have been faced with industrial truck traffic, noise and dust from the operation.

Blaine County had denied a construction company a permit for operations. The Land Board sued, arguing that state lands are exempt from regulation under the stateís Local Land Use Planning Act.

Even in the wake of the decision, Land Board representatives are arguing that the Idaho Constitution requires them to earn the best possible returns from state land for the School Endowment Fund. They say this trumps local planning laws.

However, 5th District Court Judge James J. May pointed out that just as the state cannot violate state criminal laws, it cannot violate land use laws.

The Land Board surely could make piles of money for schools by growing marijuana, but itís illegal.

The same goes for gravel pits.

The decision and the outcome of the probable appeal of the case will have widespread impacts.

For example, if the decision holds, the state will not be able to ignore county height and lighting limitations on a new cell tower on Della Mountain.

A State Land Board representative took public comment on the tower Friday evening, Despite the awful timing, County Commissioner Mary Ann Mix, Hailey City Councilwoman Susan McBryant and county planners showed up and delivered an earful.

McBryant called the hearing a "sham." And so it was.

The people of Blaine County deserve better treatment from the Land Board, which includes Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, Secretary of State Pete T. Cenarrusa, Attorney General Alan Lance, State Controller J.D. Williams and Superintendent of Public Instruction Marilyn Howard.

No matter how the case finally turns out, the Land Board should stop trying to deface Blaine County.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.