Grangeville City Hall photo

The Grangeville City Hall.

GRANGEVILLE — Deannexation of property from the city is not a common occurrence, but earlier this month, the City of Grangeville was working to move on a request for land located on the southwest edge of town. That action, however, was put on hold last Monday as the city council hopes to work an agreement that will address development concerns for the property owner and retain the lands within the municipality.

At its April 18 meeting, council tabled the reading, indefinitely, of a deannexation ordinance for Raj Chahal on approximately 40 acres located west of E Street, in the area approximate to the Tamarack Apartments. In conjunction, Mayor Wes Lester appointed a council committee to include himself, public works director Bob Mager, city administrator Tonya Kennedy and councilors Beryl Grant and Scott Winkler who will meet with Chahal to work on a plan.

As discussed, any plan agreement developed in committee would go through the city planning and zoning committee for review and recommendation to the council for approval. If no agreement is reached, the city can consider to untable the deannexation ordinance for determination.

“We should start investigating and negotiating, and try to come up with something that will work for everybody,” said Grant. “Is it going to be easy? she added, leaving that rhetorical question in the air, as the evening’s discussion had already outlined for the council the obstacles to be faced.

At its April 5 meeting, Chahal outlined his reason for seeking annexation as it is cost prohibitive to develop the property to city standards, which would include installation of curbs, gutters, sidewalks and streets. He sought to deannex the 40 acres and split this for development, under county standards, and to build housing but with no infrastructure. The council was generally not enthusiastic on the proposal, concerned with such issues as well drilling in the area that could impact the aquifer and city well production overall. However, as city staff had met with Chahal on alternatives to no success in the past, begrudging consensus was to draft a deannexation ordinance for consideration.

What led to last Monday’s rethink was time and some perspective from Idaho County. At the following Idaho County Commissioner’s meeting, attended by Kennedy, Commissioner Ted Lindsley put the issue on the board’s agenda to see if options could be found to keep the property within the city. No solutions were found, question was raised on why this was being considered if the city is concerned with ensuring orderly planned growth through its zoning ordinances; and Kennedy said the gist of public comment was deannexation was “...shoving our problem we don’t want to deal with onto the county.”

“From that conversation, we thought more, met with Bob and talked on ideas on is there a way to make this stay in the city, but negotiate and make it work with Raj, you guys, everybody,” Kennedy said.

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