scrutiny on septic plan
Express Staff Writer
neighborhood south of Hailey has become the first development to face
increased scrutiny under the Blaine County government’s recent push to
protect water quality.
Orchards developer Bob Dreyer asked the Blaine County Commission Wednesday
night of last week for final approval to subdivide his 21.5-acre parcel on
Broadford Road into 21 residential lots.
commission criticized Dreyer’s plan to allow 21 individual septic
systems on the property because it could lead to contamination of
groundwater in the area.
commission has not yet voted on the plan, but Chairwoman Mary Ann Mix told
Dreyer that he should be prepared to consider a different method of sewage
treatment because the commission might not approve his project with septic
property is located outside the city of Hailey, so the Orchards would not
be able to hook up to the city’s sewage treatment plant.
the first developer since the 1970s to propose installing septic systems
on lots of less than one acre. The South Central District Health
Department since then has required lots of at least one acre.
Health supervisor Bob Erickson, who approved the septic system plan, again
voiced his support for it last week. He said that the entire project would
result in 21 septic systems on 21.5 acres—even though open space would
make each lot smaller than an acre—so the project’s effect on water
quality would be the same as 21 systems on 21 lots of one acre each.
commission could require the developer to install a smaller version of a
city-style treatment plant, called a package plant, instead of the septic
plant would treat the sewage and eject clean water into the ground or the
Big Wood River. But Dreyer said package plants are a "mixed bag"
because they create much bigger problems than septic systems if they
the land is currently used to grow alfalfa, the fertilizers for which
pollute groundwater more than domestic septic systems would.
also asking the county to allow more houses to be built than normally
would be allowed in exchange for his providing "superior design and
amenities" in the proposed neighborhood.
commission appeared skeptical that Dreyer had offered enough to warrant
the increased density.
his plan "preserves the rural character" of the area by
providing open space and a three-rail white fence along Broadford Road.
Also, his plan would create a central park with a pond, orchard and
Commissioner Dennis Wright said, "if you build a playground next to a
10-foot-deep pond, you have just created the most attractive nuisance to
children know to man."
commissioners also voiced concern that whenever there’s thin ice on the
pond in winter, it would be a hazard to animals.
sparked a debate about whether the plan would adequately provide for the
well-being of wild animals, something county planning rules state the plan
see this property as a wildlife corridor," the developer said,
prompting an indignant stir from the audience, some of whom listed the
moose, cougars and foxes they had recently seen.
who voiced support for the project mostly cited private property rights.
They said the commission would be overstepping its authority if it denies
developer has until the final week of March to respond to a list of
concerns the commission has about the plan. Another public hearing will be
scheduled after that.