Local family files $21 million lawsuit against the city of Pocatello, others - East Idaho News

Local family files $21 million lawsuit against the city of Pocatello, others

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POCATELLO — A lawsuit filed against the city of Pocatello, Mayor Brian Blad and others claims that legal violations have diminished the value of a local family’s financial trust by more than $21 million.

The lawsuit alleges, among other things, conspiracy by the city, Blad and real estate developers Ken Pape and Arvil Swaney, and their respective companies, Portneuf Development LLC and Millennial Development Partners LLC.

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The Rupp Family Trust manages a 930-acre parcel of land, primarily part of Bannock County, that the family has owned for about 100 years.

As Rupp family trustee Lavelle Rupp told EastIdahoNews.com, the recent sale of a 150 foot-wide strip of land connecting Interstate 15 to Olympus Drive, and the lack of an intersection included in the sales agreement, has led to the Rupp property being landlocked.

Northgate Parkway, Rupp
A photo taken from Northgate Parkway shows a curb cutout Lavelle Rupp sais is approximately 25 feet wide. The cutout was made after the state of Idaho ordered a 40 foot-wide agricultural access point, according to Rupp. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

The strip of land, which makes up Northgate Parkway and a 10-foot easement on either side, was supposed to include an intersection providing access to the land, still owned by the trust, on both sides of the parkway.

The intersection was never built, and the Rupp family has missed out on several property sales opportunities due to the lack of that intersection.

“The Rupp Trusts has had four separate bona fide offers to purchase property from the Rupp Family Trust at up to $10 per square foot, or $465,000 per acre (depending on location) from developers or investors,” the lawsuit claims.

“Some of the conspirators have approached the Rupp Trusts, offering only $500 per acre for the property, totaling $190,000,” the lawsuit adds.

According to Rupp, the trust’s inability to complete sales deals has cost his family, but also the Pocatello community.

“This whole project up here, with the way it was done, has cost this community well over 3,000 jobs,” he said.

Rupp did not clarify which corporations had expressed interest in purchasing land from the trust for commercial development, but did say that at least one major corporation had been interested.

RELATED | Local family files $21 million lawsuit against the city of Pocatello, others

In addition to claims that illegal activity cost the Rupp family millions of dollars, the 97-page lawsuit alleges apparent extortion by Blad.

As the family pursued options to have its Bannock County property annexed into city limits in 2018, it discovered that access to water could be offered at a lower price by the city of Chubbuck than by Pocatello. So, the family launched an effort to annex its property into Chubbuck.

“On learning that the Rupp Trust Property was being annexed into Chubbuck, Blad called Mayor Kevin England of Chubbuck and threatened to discontinue sewer service provided by Pocatello to Chubbuck unless the decision was reversed,” the filing reads.

EastIdahoNews.com made multiple requests for comment from Pocatello city attorney Jared Johnson about the suit, but did not receive a response.

Rupp Family Trust lawsuit
A sign dividing Pocatello and Chubbuck city limits on Northgate Parkway, about one-quarter mile from the Interstate 15 interchange. What is supposed to be a 40-foot agricultural access can be seen across the street from the Pocatello sign. | Kalama Hines, EastIdahoNews.com

The lawsuit alleges four separate legal violations.

Count one, against the city of Pocatello, cites a violation of the Rupp family’s Fifth Amendment right, claiming the city claimed private property for public use without just compensation.

Count two, also against the city, claims that the family land was annexed into the city of Pocatello in violation of city ordinance — specifically citing city code preventing the City Council from annexing private property in the form of a strip or “shoestring” of land.

Count three, against the city, Swaney and Millennial Development as well as Pape and Portneuf Development, claims that individuals and corporations conspired to rob the Rupp family of access to its land.

Count four, against the development companies and their representatives, claims a Lanham Act — or trademark — violation, citing a website created by the two which uses images of the Rupp property.

The trust and their attorney filed a tort claim last fall, hoping that the named defendants would respond in an effort to settle the suit out of court. Because contact was not made, the suit had been filed with the court, and court summons have been sent to all defendants, who have 21 days to respond.