Posted by: Patricia Salkin | October 29, 2015

ID Supreme Court Finds Conditional Rezone Did Not Constitute Illegal Spot Zoning

Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. (AEHI) was considering Payette County as the proposed site of a nuclear power plant. AEHI contracted to purchase approximately 5000 acres, which was zoned Agricultural. Because the property needed to be rezoned in order to accomplish AEHI’s objectives, AEHI started two proceedings: proceedings to revise the County’s Comprehensive Plan; and proceedings regarding the conditional rezone and development agreement application. The Payette County Board of Commissioners approved a conditional rezone of a parcel of land from agricultural to industrial, subject to a development agreement. The district court upheld the Commissioners’ actions and H–Hook, LLC, a neighboring landowner, appealed from the district court’s decision. 

H–Hook argued the rezone was invalid because the County’s amended comprehensive plan does not contain the statutorily required analysis for power plant sites and utility transmission corridors as required in Idaho Code section 67–6508(h). Here, the comprehensive plan addressed power plant siting, albeit on a case-by-case basis; however, it would be very difficult to develop detailed plans for the many different types of power plants that may be proposed, since the size of such projects can be widely variable. Even though the comprehensive plan contained no meaningful discussion of power transmission corridors, the court found that the duty to analyze the location and possible routing of such lines would only be triggered by a notification from the public utilities commission concerning the likelihood of a federally designated national interest electric transmission corridor. Since no such notification was given here, the court held the amended comprehensive plan satisfied Idaho Code section 67–6508(h)’s “general plans” requirement. 

H–Hook next contended the rezone was impermissible type one spot zoning because, under the amended comprehensive plan, power plant siting did not have to follow any sort of comprehensive planning analysis. Here, the rezone was in compliance with the comprehensive plan’s designation of the land due to the amendment of the comprehensive plan to designate the property as Industrial. Because the rezone was in accord with the comprehensive plan, it was not impermissible type one spot zoning. As to the argument that the notice was inadequate, even though the draft development agreement did not originally contain the County’s revisions, a draft development agreement with revisions was made available eight days before the December 2, 2010, proceeding before the Planning and Zoning Commission. The court found that these eight days provided adequate time for H–Hook to review the document, especially since it had previous access to the earlier draft development agreement. Accordingly, H–Hook’s claimed due process violation was also found to be without merit. 

Neighbors for the Preservation of the Big and Little Creek Community v Board of Commissioners of Payette County, 2015 WL 5655521 (ID 9/25/2015)

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