Members of the city council began examining amendments to the Rexburg Development Code during their city council meeting on Wednesday. The Rexburg development code outlines rules for how certain residential and commercial properties can look and how developers can build in these areas.
One member of the community drew attention to the allowance of 80-foot flagpoles compared to the previous 30 feet and the impact these changes could have on the look and feel of the city.
Amendments to the code also try to clear up confusion about the current understanding of city ordinances.
One area of confusion and contention was the distinctions between “household pets” and “domestic livestock,” particularly where chickens fall. Currently, chickens fall under the category of “household pets.” Some members of the community disagreed with this placement, because “you don’t eat your pets.”
In order to clarify, council member Tisha Flora read the following definition for domestic livestock that could potentially be incorporated into the Rexburg code.
The definition read “Horse and other animals generally used for human food production including cattle, sheep, goats, rabbits, poultry, fish and honeybees, which are raised with the intent to supply food, enjoyment and education for those who raise them.”
Stephen Zollinger, the attorney for the city of Rexburg, said the definition read by council member Flora was inconsistent with a dictionary definition.
“The definitions that Alan (Parkinson, the city planner) has in the code currently are consistent with Merriam Webster’s dictionary and any other dictionary I can find,” Zollinger said. “Livestock is a meat or a fur-bearing animal considered to be raised for the purposes of its meat.”
While adding more clarification to the code on what animals qualify as domestic livestock might initially prove helpful, Parkinson questioned where the city would draw the line so listing specifics became excessive.
According to the current development code, “new businesses, new major developments, new developers to the City of Rexburg, and developers needing assistance with city administration and city processes may approach the Ready team for informal advice and direction. Such discussion shall be treated as advisory by both parties.”
The line saying “and a general record meeting shall be created” was removed in the amended version presented to the city council.
Council member Colin Erickson believed this section should be reinstated.
“I think for transparency and to know what the ready team is doing, I think they do need to have a record start when they start working with the developer so the information is passed on (to the public) and the transparency is there,” Erickson said.
Members of the city council and other city staff sought to explain the reasoning behind the removal of this section. They acknowledged the importance of keeping the public informed but also expressed a desire to protect the privacy of potential developers.
“That is something that should be made public at a certain point,” said Jerry Merrill, Rexburg’s mayor. “Until that point, there are some things that do need to be held in confidence. I think that’s a fine line we have to tread there.”
The council decided to postpone voting on whether to implement these amendments so members of the council could take a more in-depth look at specific changes to the development code.