Oct 18, 2018
Mr. Jeff Patlovich
Island Park City Planning and Zoning Administrator
RE: 18-Class II-030 Public Hearing for Ralph and Vicki Andrus at 5219 N. Hwy 20, Island Park Idaho for a 25 ft. variance from the required 75 ft., setback from a body of water.
Dear Mr. Patlovich:
I am writing to the P and Z Commission to request denial of the requested reduction in setback on behalf of the Henrys Lake Foundation Board of Directors.
This property has been a long standing conservation concern for IDFG, Henrys Lake Foundation(HLF), locally active non-profit conservation organizations and local neighboring ranchers due to its location containing a significant wetland, ponds and critical portions of Howard Creek . This area is a Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout(YCT) spawning creek, and the Henrys Lake area and its tributaries are the only location in the State of Idaho that produces naturally spawned YCT. These fish spawn in Howard Creek just above the ponds, and the wetland is a critical nursery for young fry. Although a relatively small production, it’s a valuable asset to the fishery and the State. In 2017, Howard Creek was the best producer of YCT fry than any other tributary of the lake.
In years past The Nature Conservancy (TNC) invested funds to provide for an improved culvert under the access road for the previous owner in order to improve passage for spawning YCTs. This resulted in improved spawning numbers returning to the lake. A neighboring rancher attempted to purchase the property outright to prevent any disturbance of the habitat. Another neighboring rancher denied an access easement to reduce the possibility of disturbance of the habitat.
We are requesting that the P and Z Commission deny the request of the current owner for a variance from the 75 ft. setback requirement. Setbacks from bodies of water are in place for good reason: to protect bodies of water from disturbance due to development. This is a critical wetland that is very productive for native fish. It deserves protection. The previous owner was denied setback reductions of this magnitude in the past.
It appears that the planned development is too large for the buildable portion of the lot. The majority of the property is wetland, not suitable for this type of development, and known to the owner when the land was purchased. The buildable portion will not support a structure of this large size with associated driveways, parking, etc.
We appreciate the opportunity to make a public comment on this item of interest in our community. HLF hopes you will consider the concerns we have raised and deny this request.
Phil Barker, Past President HLF Board
Richard Hodge, Acting President HLF Board
Mary Van Fleet, Projects Manager HLF Board