The Fairfield Town Council denied a request for a variance on new construction in a residential section of Fairfield during the July 14 meeting.
Brad and Pachele Palmer requested a four-foot, four-inch variance to the front of a house they plan to build on their property at the corner of First Avenue South and Fifth Street. The structure would be in line with an existing garage that they built last year.
Palmer explained the town’s zoning regulations are difficult for anyone building on a corner lot. His proposed structure would meet the zoning requirements on all other sides.
During the council’s discussion it was noted the garage, which the town approved the previous summer, does not meet requirements. There was no explanation or finger pointing as to why this happened. But the council stated just because there was “one wrong” doesn’t mean they are willing to move forward with another.
Councilman Ron Dauwalder explained how hard the council has worked on the zoning ordinances. “We understand they are not going to please everyone,” Dauwalder said, “but they allow us to treat everyone fairly and makes construction in the community uniform and the same for everyone.”
The council members explained that the zoning ordinances established many years ago were recently updated, and the current Council was trying to uphold the rules and regulations as set in place. Dauwalder added that the zoning regulations do make the town look better and most properties in town fit in the zoning setbacks.
Dauwalder stated that a number of community members presented good reasons to accept their variance, and although it was never an easy decision, Council agreed to stay with the current zoning setbacks and not allow variances. “If there are issues with the rules and regulations of the zoning ordinance, then they need to change the rules to fit the community, not allow variances,” he said.
The council also noted that each request is taken individually, but they had turned down a request for just the same thing made by Grant Poor two months earlier. Poor also asked to square up this property with an existing garage.
Under public comment, pool manager Amanda Brown addressed the board regarding issues she sees at the Fairfield swimming pool from space in the dressing rooms and office to major leaks under the pool. Brown said she is aware any updates or her suggestion of building a new pool are high-ticket items and will take some time to accomplish. She wondered, however, if doing the improvements in the pool house to meet handicapped requirements isn’t just putting a bandage on the problems and if it isn’t time to just pull the bandage off and starting working toward a new pool. “Are you just putting $100,000 into the pool that could be used toward a new pool,” she asked the council.
The council thanked Brown for her dedication to the pool and her concerns. They assured her they share some of the same concerns and would like to spend the money to build a new facility. They went on to explain that the ongoing projects with water, sewer and streets are taking precedence. It was also noted the renovations to bring the pool into compliance with handicapped accessibility laws need to be done or the pool could face being shut down.
With no idea of how much a new pool would cost, Brown volunteered to do some basic groundwork to determine an estimate and present it to the council at a future meeting.
Chuck Dale reported the town well as holding its own at present. He said in the last billing cycle, the 9,234 gallons pumped, of that 8,561,200 were not billed. It was noted the main park, library, Lions Club park and pool are not metered and are included in the figure. There were an additional 22 meters that were considerably over the normal use. Dale said they are working with each of these residences to determine if it is usage or a possible leak.
Looking at previous water reports, it was noted the amount of unbilled usage is continuing to decline as the town maintenance crew finds leaks and they are repaired.
During the mayor’s report, he stated the purchase of the city shop building was completed on July 1. He also stated he had attended a meeting with the Teton County Commissioners regarding applying for water and sewer funds the county is receiving through the American Rescue Plan funding. He said future meetings are planned where representatives from the each of towns or water districts in the county and Greenfield Irrigation District will present the projects they need help funding.
The council approved an increase in pay of $.50 an hour for both Nick and Chuck Dale, city maintenance crew, for having successfully passed the test for water and sewer certification.
The Fairfield Volunteer Fire Department reported three members who are retiring for active duty for the town, Merv Carper, member since 2000; Ron Dauwalder, member since 1989; and Jeremy Norheim, member since 1998.