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Southwestern Idaho community battles over gravel pit

A southwestern Idaho man is facing resistance from the community in his quest to develop his own water-ski lake.

Kyle Cooper of Middleton is applying for a conditional-use permit to begin digging a 25-foot deep gravel pit, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported. Cooper says he wants to build a lake where his family can ski, boat and paddle board.

However, neighboring residents have raised concerns that the project will create noise and air pollution.

Middleton resident Rob Knopp said that Cooper’s permit application doesn’t meet the appropriate criteria. According to Canyon County officials, conditional-use permits are only granted to those who can assure no damage or nuisance will be made to surrounding property or people. The permit is required to build any sort of lake on the private property.

Canyon County planning officials are expected to decide on whether to approve the permit on Thursday.

Knopp added that a ski lake isn’t part of the community’s identity.

“Let’s be clear, we’re not a ‘not in our backyard’ kind of group,” Kopp said. “We have tangible reasons why this project should not go forward.”

Other neighbors, like Amy Herbert, argued that the land is connected to sections of the historic Oregon Trail. She believes that the land is the location of the Ward Family Massacre, and it should thus be preserved.

“We may not be proud of our history, but we cannot change it,” she said. “We can seek to understand it and honor those who have died and seek to rise above the mentality of selfishness, greed and misunderstanding. What is the gain? The gain is preserving and protecting respect for humanity and the beauty of this agricultural area.”

Cooper countered that he has done the research to make sure the project will be completed with no complications.

The proposed project will require gravel crushers and gravel trucks to excavate the rocks from the ground. Cooper estimated that the project will take nearly four years.

Cooper and his family moved to Idaho 11 years ago, where he and his father-in-law, Denny Wagstaff, eventually bought nearly 58 acres in Middleton with the intent to build a private water-ski lake.

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One comment

  1. Evidently you can own the land, play taxes on the land, but the neighbors regulate “your” land in America. I am starting to wonder if we will ever be able to help people build new lakes streams and ponds again!