Blackfoot charter school to apply for city permit

BLACKFOOT — Bingham Academy will apply for a permit needed to grant continued access to its current location, reports the Bingham County Chronicle.

The school’s board voted unanimously Thursday to submit an application to the city of Blackfoot requesting a conditional use permit for the school’s continued occupancy of a former theater housed in a strip mall.

The decision represents the latest in a lingering facilities feud between the public charter school and the city’s planning and zoning commission, which says the school has had ample time to produce paperwork required for a permit.

Trustees also approved on Thursday payment of $10,818 in legal fees to Idaho Falls law firm Peterson Moss Hall & Olsen, the Chronicle reported. Attorney Nathan Olsen, a lawyer with the firm, had counseled the charter school to reject the city’s past requests for a permit application. The school said last month that it was “under no legal obligation” to apply for a permit — and that the commission made “serious legal missteps” in its quest to bring the school into compliance with city code.

The school’s change in course stems from an assurance that the city would drop a previous requirement that the school provide a detailed transition plan for leaving the facility, Bingham trustee Dan Cravens told Idaho Education News.

The assurance stems from conversations Olsen has had with the city, Cravens said.

Blackfoot Planning and Zoning commissioner Ron Ramirez told EdNews that he was unaware of such an assurance, and that the board would decide on the school’s need to include a transition plan after the city’s reception of the application.

Ramirez said he still expects the transition plan to factor into the commission’s decision to grant the school a permit. The need for a transition plan stems from complaints about the school from other businesses in the strip mall, Ramirez said.

“We will consider all of the factors and if necessary — if we think it is important — we could still ask for a transitional plan,” Ramirez said.

Citing noncompliance with city land use code, the commission last month ordered Bingham to discontinue use of the facility. Bingham decried the city’s order.

Earlier his month, the city issued the school a 30-day conditional use permit for the facility.

Bingham typically enrolls around 100 local high schoolers. The school’s 2019-20 start date is Aug. 19.
Devin Bodkin

Devin Bodkin

Devin was formerly a senior reporter and editor for Idaho Education News and now works for INL in communications.

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