A.F. Council tries to give businesses a lift, pending legal review

by Daniel Moore
Press Staff Writer

Mountain States Oilseeds in American Falls wants Elevator Street paved.

The tiny gravel road, which runs right through the middle of the elevator district and looks more like a business access than a city street, needs to be paved to help maintain Mountain States’ status as a food processing plant under the food modernization act. Along with safflower, Mountain States processes mustard seed and flax for human consumption.

“Along with the act comes a list of regulations that are five to six inches thick,” said Mountain States’ owner Bill Meadows, adding that improving the cleanliness of the area outside the building would help maintain those regulations.

And Meadows wants it paved fast; the governor is coming to town to tour the facility on April 23, and Meadows would like the business looking its best before then. Governor Butch Otter, along with the Idaho Department of Agriculture, will be selling Idaho businesses products in foreign countries, most immediately in Peru and Mexico, and is touring the facilities he will highlight on his trip before he leaves.

“That’s a good program for a company like ourselves. I want my company to look the best that it can,” Meadows said.

Meadows appeared before the American Falls City Council at its meeting on Wednesday, April 1, to try and get the council to approve the paving. His company, along with Thresher Artisan Grain across the street from Mountain States, will pay for the paving.

The only problem is that, according to the city code of American Falls, new streets need to be 43 feet wide. Old buildings now prohibit the road from being that wide.

“My company is willing to pay for the road to meet your specs. What we need is a compromise,” Meadows said. “There is nothing we can do with the existing buildings. They’ve been here a long time.”

Eventually, within the next four to five years, the old grain elevator on the street will come down, said Todd Permann with Thresher. At that time, the street could be widened. However, both companies want the road paved before then, Permann said.

The city council was confident that they could still make the street. However, city attorney Tippi Jarman wants to make sure that breaking the width rule will not open up the city to litigation in the future.

Mayor Marc Beitia pointed out that it was not a new road, the city would be paving an existing road that has been around before the new standard was in place. That is exactly the type of things she wants to look into before approving the road, Jarman said.

Since paving would need to start before the next council meeting, and Jarman had not yet researched the topic enough to present the council with any legal advice, the city council approved paving the road, as long as the city attorney approves it too. Jarman said she would be in contact with Thresher and Mountain States to work out an agreement as soon as possible.

Mountain States Oil Seeds was not the only business the council helped in that meeting. The American Motel, on Pocatello Avenue in American Falls, is replacing its outdated septic systems by hooking to the city sewer. The city agreed previously to pay the engineering for the expansion of the line. The council agreed on that night to allow the motel to make payments on the expansion instead of a lump sum, as negotiated by the mayor and the city’s attorney.

The council also approved a route change for the Power County Hospital District Foundation’s fun run. The fun run traditionally goes around American Falls High School, but the hospital wanted to move the event to the hospital, said City Councilmember Dan Hammond, who is also the chairman of the foundation board.

The foundation worked out a route for a 5k starting and ending at the hospital. American Falls Police Chief Brandon Wilkinson said he was concerned that, with the route crossing the busy Harrison Street twice, the city may need another officer on duty to stop traffic. Hammond asked if it was okay to have volunteers on hand to stop traffic, and Wilkinson agreed that would be fine.

The council also agreed to allow Snake River Construction, a contractor with the Idaho Transportation Department, to stockpile gravel while the company chip seals the bypass around American Falls, in exchange for chip sealing the nearby Lee Street for a very low rate.

The council also approved music in the park every Thursday night from 6 to 8 p.m., starting in June. The music will be scheduled by Tammy Ramsey, with a music festival held in conjunction with American Falls Day on Saturday, Aug. 1.

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