Amid open meeting questions, Nampa agency looks to acquire undisclosed public land

From the Idaho Press
By ERIN BAMER

NAMPA — The Nampa Development Corporation, the urban renewal agency, wants to acquire a piece of publicly owned land, but some board members don’t want to share what that land is yet.

The board planned to discuss the property in an executive session at its latest meeting Wednesday, but a typo in the agenda led to discussion and action on the topic being postponed to a special meeting.

The agenda item called for an “Executive session to adjourn into executive session pursuant to Idaho Code 74-206-1(C) to acquire an interest in real property which is not owned by a public agency.”

But the board could not discuss the property in an executive session because the property is owned by a public agency, contrary to what was stated on the agenda. The Nampa Development Corporation cited the incorrect code in their agenda and did not have grounds to hold an executive session to discuss the property, according to the agency’s attorney Bill Nichols.

Nichols said the board could amend the agenda by citing “good faith reasoning,” but no final action could be taken on the matter unless there was an emergency. Agencies cannot make any final decisions during an executive session according to state law, but the board’s agenda called for a possible action based on their discussion following their executive session.

Furthermore, Nichols said the board could only hold an executive session to discuss publicly owned land by citing Idaho Code 74-206-1(D) to consider records that are exempt from disclosure, in the event that the board had a confidential memorandum of some kind. The board did not have a confidential memorandum. Ultimately, Nichols advised the board to not take action on the subject at that meeting.

Commissioner Darl Bruner said he was in favor of discussing the property acquisition in open session. Nichols said board members could discuss the property acquisition publicly but still advised them not to take final action on the subject.

“I am totally, 100 percent in favor of full public disclosure,” Bruner said.

But Chairman Randy Haverfield said discussing the property in public would create problems with acquiring it, particularly between the trust of both parties. He said the executive session was merely meant to help officials get a better understanding on what was going on.

Unlike Bruner, Haverfield and Commissioner David Bills, the other remaining commissioner at the meeting, Grant Miller, did not know what the piece of property in question was. Haverfield said he and Bruner knew about it because the acquisition was discussed during an executive session during a Nampa City Council meeting on Monday, where he and Bruner both serve as council members. Bills was also involved in the executive session, Haverfield said. Bills is a former Nampa City Council member who works in real estate.

Bills pointed out that City Council members cited the same incorrect code Monday to hold their executive session. This means that City Council’s executive session may have violated Idaho open meetings law. Maren Ericson, the city attorney present at Monday’s City Council meeting, could not be reached for comment after several phone calls.

Bills requested a five-minute break in the middle of the urban renewal discussion to “think through” the situation, which was granted. Bills said he needed the break to consider whether waiting a month until the board’s next meeting was worth keeping the property off the public record.

During the break, Bills, Haverfield, Nichols and Samuel Mangeac, who was present at the meeting and works as the director of the Good News Community Church food pantry, all left the room. Nampa Finance Director Vikki Chandler also showed up to the meeting to speak with Bills away from his microphone.

Mangeac confirmed that he was involved in the property acquisition and said the matter did not have anything to do with the church or the food pantry, but did not provide further information. Mangeac is the brother of urban renewal board commissioner Claudia Dina, although Dina was not present at the meeting.

After the break, Bills made a motion to discuss the acquisition in open session, which passed with a 3-1 vote. Haverfield was the sole dissenting vote.

“Tread lightly on the egg shells you’re about to throw on the floor,” Haverfield said to Bills.

But the discussion never took place. Before the board revealed what the property was, Bills said he wanted the board to take action at that meeting, but Nichols continued to advise the board against that. Several commissioners said they did not want to wait another 30 days to take action, so they decided to schedule a special meeting to discuss the subject.

Commissioners hoped the special meeting could be held in the next week or two, but a specific date has not been set yet. It was unclear whether the acquisition would be discussed in open or executive session.

 

From the Idaho Press

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