Bingham Academy has the OK to stay at its current location after months of fighting between the City of Blackfoot and the school.
The city’s planning and zoning commission unanimously approved the school’s conditional use permit application (CUP) Tuesday evening.
“We’re just going to be happy to move on and to be able to focus more of our efforts on educating our students,” Bingham Academy board member Dan Cravens said.
After Tuesday’s marathon public hearing, board members, like Cravens, are glad to have the dispute behind them, even though they feel the whole situation was unfortunate and unnecessary.
“We filed the CUP just to resolve this conflict,” Cravens said. “We do not believe, and our attorney has counseled us, that we did not have a legal requirement to do that.”
During the meeting, it came to light that many schools and businesses in Blackfoot had been open and operating without CUP’s for a number of years. The commission indicated that it may pursue getting them into compliance as well in the future.
Several motions to approve the school’s CUP application were put forth Tuesday, but the school, and attorney Nathan Olson, appeared not to agree with the attached conditions. Finally, just after 10:35 p.m., the application passed.
Cravens believes this may be the final bell on the issue.
“I think so, but, you know, we’ve kind of been there before. So, we will see, we will see. I am optimistic,” he said, “but, you know, it just depends on what’s presented, and we just want to make sure that it was what was reflected and what was said last night.”
A piece of the agreed-upon CUP was a transition plan which would take effect when Bingham Academy’s student body reached 160 (enrollment is currently at 116). The plan was something the school had admittedly taken a stand against in recent months.
“We would hope to get to that point sooner rather than later, however, we don’t know when that’s going to be,” Cravens said. “I’m not good at gambling and I’m not good at picking numbers and I don’t know when that’s going to be.”
The STEM school may eventually leave Riverside Plaza, something that will likely satisfy many of the neighboring businesses alleged to have filed complaints. But for the immediate future, it’s home for Bingham Academy.
Members of the Blackfoot Planning and Zoning Commission were not available for comment Wednesday.