Growth in Gem County

A growing demand for residential property in Gem County will be among the many issues considered in the development of a new Comprehensive Plan.

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Gem County is creating a new plan or vision for the future. They are wanting your input.

After more than two decades of having a joint Comprehensive Plan with the City of Emmett, the two entities are developing separate plans to better define the specific needs and visions of each. Each are working with the same professional planning organization and sharing lots of data but final plans will be specific to each.

According to the planning firm Logan Simpson, “Gem County’s new comprehensive plan will establish a 20-year vision and address topics such as growth and land use pressures, housing, economic development, community and cultural resources, natural resources and hazards, recreation and open space, and transportation.”

Gem County is hosting an open house, 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 13 at the Emmett Middle School. There will be a presentation made at 6 p.m. concerning the process being used for the development of the plan and a question and answer opportunity for attendees.

Logan Simpson, working with Gem County Commissioners and other county officials, have conducted an audit of existing plans, resources, and current conditions to build a foundation for the process.

Now begins the community input and inclusion in a visioning process.

The Gem County plan is being called “A Plan for Our Future, Rooted in Our Past.”

With this public kickoff event the Gem County plan will be transitioning to a “community visioning” phase according to Miriam McGilvray, an associate planner with Logan Simpson and project manager for this planning process.

The visioning stage will be followed with the development of a draft preliminary plan that will be offered for public review. Once those public reviews have been incorporated adoption hearings will be held for final input before being submitted to the County Commission for adoption. Final adoption is targeted for summer 2022.

This meeting is focused entirely on the Gem County comprehensive planning process and is separate from the process concurrently underway with the City of Emmett.

Emmett Mayor Gordon Petrie says that the City comprehensive planning process is also underway with public comments being accepted and collected directly.

He noted that the separation of county and city remains a confusion for some citizens. “Emmett is NOT the county and the County is NOT Emmett. Even old timers don’t get it and the proof is that they are in here virtually every day wanting to do something that is a county function…from paying taxes to licensing their vehicles.”

Because you have an Emmett mailing address through the Post Office, that does not place you in the municipal jurisdiction of the City of Emmett. The intertwined city and county jurisdictions are among the clarifications that both comprehensive plans are addressing.

The Emmett city comprehensive plan is being called “Elevate Emmett: Planning Our Future Together.” Additional details on the City of Emmett plan will be presented in a future edition of the Messenger Index and can also be followed at That website is interactive and encourages community input to be included in the planning process.

Attempts to update the current joint comprehensive plan by the Joint Planning Commission met resistance at a public meeting in February 2020. That plan was last updated in 2014 and growth and state law changes made it difficult to maintain. Subsequently it was decided by both the County and the City to terminate the Joint Planning Commission and to pursue separate comprehensive plans.

Comprehensive Plans are vital documents by Idaho Statue to guide the planning and zoning functions of local governments. While the Comprehensive Plan does not necessarily authorize or ban specific actions by zoning commissions, planning departments, city councils or the county board of commissioners, it does provide a guideline to encourage consistent and amenable actions.

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