For the week of July 21, 1999  thru July 27, 1999  

Hailey and Bellevue city councils lock horns in joint meeting

Eccles farmland subject of ongoing planning debate

Express Staff Writer

In a rare joint meeting of city councils from Bellevue and Hailey on Monday, leaders butted heads over acceptable planning for the open space that currently buffers the two cities.

The goal of the meeting, Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer stated, was to come up with an area-of-impact line in the space between the two cities.

In the end, however, all that seemed to come up was the ire of city officials from both communities.

The land in question lies on the east side of state Highway 75 and is owned by Spencer Eccles to the north and Ted Divine to the south.

Eccles has applied for annexation to the city of Hailey with a Light Industrial zoning designation. Last month, the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission recommended LI zoning for the parcel.

No master plan accompanies the Eccles annexation application, so it is not known exactly what the development would be.

Eccles’ attorney, Evan Robertson, emphasized that his client has no intention of developing the land for at least five years. The annexation request was made now because Eccles is practicing "good, long-range planning," Robertson said.

However and whenever it develops, Bellevue officials said, they are concerned that any light industrial development will hamper the city’s downtown commercial core.

"We’d like to have a little bit of say on what happens on the Eccles property," Bellevue Mayor Steve Fairbrother said.

In addition, Bellevue officials are interested in maintaining a visual separation—through open space—between the two cities.

"We don’t want Hailey running into Bellevue," Bellevue councilman George Moore said. The sentiment was echoed by each of the Bellevue council members.

The area-of-impact line, if drawn on the Eccles property line, would exclude the city of Bellevue from making planning decisions on the Eccles property.

That line could also mean that distinctions between the cities will fade, Hailey councilman Scott Basolo said.

"It’s such a special piece of property that we should try to pursue with the applicant some master planning on that property immediately in order to come up with an open-space feel in that area," Basolo said. "I’m afraid that if we implement a line, we’ll see the differences between our cities vanish."

Basolo, however, said an area-of-impact line drawn along the Eccles property would help achieve a buffer zone in the long-run.

"Personally, I would prefer a clearly drawn line with two different zones of impact with the opportunity for both cities to mutually comment on the application," Siemer said.

Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig, who was asked to speak, suggested master planning for both the Eccles and Divine properties before any annexation agreements.

"The county does not accept a rezone without a master plan," Harlig reminded the council members.

Harlig suggested that the Eccles and Divine properties not be considered as two separate parcels but as one unit.

Annexation of the properties, Harlig said, should come at the same time.

"Put the burden on the property owners to provide a master plan for the area," Harlig said. "Don’t let the property owners pick you off one at a time. The community interest as a whole should be addressed by the councils."

Robertson disagreed.

"Too fine-penciled of a plan would not be in the vested interest of either city or, as Len [Harlig] says, in the community at large," Robertson said.

Bellevue council members balked at Siemer’s idea of drawing the area-of-impact line on the Eccles property line and will tackle the boundary line issue in their chambers tonight.


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