Planning and Zoning denies jail expansion request

Posted at 10:44 PM, Aug 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-10 00:44:02-04

The Canyon County Jail is in desperate need of more space. Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue says three inmates have escaped from the current tent-like out-building used for housing.

Tuesday night, Caldwell’s Planning and Zoning Commission denied a special use permit for the county’s jail expansion plan.

Earlier this year, commissioners approved a plan to build a two-story 55,000-square-foot facility across the street from the current jail. The ground was formerly a parking lot.

Crews are already working on infrastructure for the lot. Gas, power and sewer lines are being added to the property.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the Planning and Zoning commission discussed parking needs for the jail as well as details on granting the permit.

One problem facing the expansion: opposition from Canyon County residents.

Pam White is a newly elected Canyon County Commissioner. She says she wasn’t silent about her opposition to the current plan during her election and won’t back down when she’s sworn in come January.

“It would be feasible for me to vote against this, because I do not support adding on to the existing jail," White says.

Many in opposition to the new building have their eye on a different option: building an entirely new facility.

“It’s totally unsustainable,” White says. “And you know what? That temporary tent across the street doesn’t go away, so this doesn’t even take care of that safety issue.”

Those in favor of the current plan now have a short window of time to file an appeal.