Yellowstone Safari Park discussed at ‘grievance meeting’ in Madison County
REXBURG — The topic of an upcoming Yellowstone Safari Park or “game ranch” was discussed during a June 29 Madison County Commissioners Meeting.
Jared Sommer, the owner of Yellowstone Safari Park, spoke to commissioners and local residents to try and ease concerns among the neighbors who will be living near the park, after a flyer made its way around Facebook this month, detailing concerns about the “game ranch,” which is set to be built at 2246 West 4000 North in Madison County.
Among the concerns is that Safari Park will not be regulated correctly since there is no legal definition of “game ranch” in Madison County.
Neighbors fear that the park will grow exponentially over the years because of the lack of definition and regulation, causing concern that dangerous animals will escape and traffic will increase.
“As this is an air-of-grievance meeting, not a public hearing, and compliance with county ordinance of permitted use has already been determined, the Sommer family have chosen to attend this meeting,” said Sommer. “We didn’t need to, but as we have been disparaged in small and large circles, we as a family concluded it best to quell the venom as much as is possible.”
Sommer told Madison County Commissioners Brett Mendenhall and Todd Smith that a “game ranch” is a “permitted use without need of conditional use permit or otherwise.”
Neighbors have stated that they were not notified about the construction of Safari Park. Sommer said that notification was not necessary as Brad Peterson, the planning and zoning administrator at the time, had already been consulted and met with Sommer at the property. Sommer told the room that Peterson had even physically inspected the property for a fencing permit.
Regarding traffic concerns, Sommers stated that if the area was to be used residentially instead, there would be much more traffic than his “game ranch” will create.
“This game ranch will not be open year-round. It is a seasonal location,” said Sommer. “The information in the flyer is stated in a way to create drama. The facts are – what we are doing is working to maintain the land in agricultural use.”
A representative for the neighbors who are opposed to the game ranch, Kirsten Ruebush, spoke at the meeting to list the grievances that the group has.
“This presentation is not about the concerns or reasons against the development — I’m focused solely on county and state law,” said Ruebush. “This is not an issue between wanting a subdivision there as opposed to a game ranch, because both of those would require a zone change.”
Because it was a meeting to air grievances and not a public hearing, commissioners didn’t address the concern on a zone change and didn’t take action for or against the park.
A public hearing is scheduled for July 11 at the Madison County Commissioners Meeting Room, but it is not clear whether the Safari Park issue will make it onto the agenda.
Updates on which topics will be discussed will be posted to the Madison County Commissioners Agenda.