proposed for Picabo
housing demand spreading south
Express Staff Writer
as a blueprint for Picabo’s future, a plan to rezone almost half the
town met with cautious approval from about a dozen of its residents during
a public hearing Thursday.
looking east from downtown Picabo shows the strip of land on which
Nick Purdy would like to develop a residential subdivision. Four
potato-storage buildings are visible at the parcel’s east end. Express
photo by Greg Moore
proposal is a sign that resort-generated housing demand is spreading
toward the tiny, south-county agricultural community.
rancher Nick Purdy, whose Picabo Livestock Co. owns the land in question,
presented the proposal before the Blaine County Planning and Zoning
Commission at the Old County Courthouse in Hailey.
like to move future residential development to the east end of town, away
from his ranching operations near Picabo’s center. He proposes to rezone
16 acres of currently residential-zoned land near the town’s center to
agricultural use, and 51 acres of land currently zoned for agriculture at
the east end to residential use. The proposed R-5 residential area would
be in a narrow strip of land abutting the south side of U.S. Highway 20.
culmination of the rezone would be development of a proposed 11-lot Picabo
Hills subdivision, seven of whose lots would be put up for sale. Purdy
said he envisions that happening in four to five years.
acknowledged that he hopes to profit from that development, pointing out
that ranching alone is no longer enough to sustain the property, but said
that is not his only motivation.
think we can make Picabo a nice place to live and benefit the
county," he told P&Z commissioners. "I see nothing but
conflict coming between the residences and the ranches if it continues to
develop as planned."
resident Mike Riedel spoke in support of Purdy’s proposal, telling
commissioners the P&Z had found it difficult to decide previous
applications for changes to Picabo properties since the town has no real
is a great opportunity to you," Riedel said. "It is in reality a
city plan. Please do some city planning for Picabo."
Dave Glasscock said he saw some good ideas in the proposal, but pointed
out that it would turn much more agricultural land into residential use
than vice versa.
think it’s a really bad precedent to start rezoning agricultural lands
residential," he said.
proposal would, however, reduce the number of lots on the properties from
84 to 21, thereby reducing permitted density.
wife, Virginia, questioned whether residential development is appropriate
for the narrow east-end parcel, given the amount of agricultural truck
traffic in the area and the location of potato-storage buildings at its
eastern end. In an interview, Purdy said potatoes are transported to the
storage buildings for about a month in the fall and a month in the spring.
additional part of Purdy’s proposal is to rezone an 11-acre parcel on
the corner of First and David streets, south of the proposed subdivision,
from agricultural to residential. He said the triangular-shaped parcel is
out of reach of the radial sprinkler there, and therefore unsuitable for
agriculture. The parcel is part of a 3,400-acre open-space easement Purdy
donated to The Nature Conservancy in 1996.
Davidson, Silver Creek Preserve manger, said The Nature Conservancy plans
to hold Purdy to the easement’s terms, which forbid subdivision.
However, Purdy said he is willing to trade an easement on another parcel
that the conservation group would probably find more attractive.
also applied to amend the southern third of the Picabo townsite, zoned
R--.4, to create 12 lots where there are now 67. The residential-zoned
parcels for which he has applied to be rezoned agricultural are included
in that property. In an interview, Purdy said he doesn’t expect to begin
selling any of those lots for at least 10 years.
the commissioners that his proposal is "probably the most complex
application you’ve had before the county for quite some time."
Planning staff member David Odom said between six and 10 public hearings
will be required to get through all the decisions involved. The rezone
applications will be determined first, followed by the proposed
In a brief
historical presentation, Purdy’s father, Bud Purdy, said his grandfather
came to the area in 1883 to help build the railroad from Shoshone to
Hailey. He liked the area and created a 640-acre homestead.
said the name "Picabo" comes from a word in a Minnesota Indian
tribe language meaning "shining water." It was applied by one of
the railroad workers, a Minnesota resident, after he saw Silver Creek.
said the family’s long history in Picabo makes them different from
normal developers. Referring to people who had raised objections to his
proposal, he said, "We’ll be there when they’re gone."