History worth repeating
Discussion of a proposal to rezone areas
in tiny Picabo took a disturbing turn last week at a meeting of the Blaine
County Planning and Zoning Commission.
Someone suggested looking at Picabo—barely
a wide spot in the road on the way to Carey—as a place for high density
Of all places for this, Picabo is probably
the worst. It has no water or sewer system. It lies in the middle of the area’s
most active agricultural area. Silver Creek, the world-famous blue-ribbon trout
stream, flows nearby. Its sensitive ecology would be damaged by urban-style
Someone also suggested that allowing high
densities in Picabo could create "non-regulated affordable housing." This is an
illusion in places like Blaine County, where land is expensive, the lifestyle
enviable, and the economy decent.
As off-base as they may be, the ideas are
surfacing because of planning stalemates.
The county has long looked for ways to
protect its ranches and farms by enabling transfer of development densities to
lands more suitable for development. It is also looking to address the need for
affordable housing. Yet, the county’s five cities have rejected becoming
receiving areas for greater densities and have failed to address housing needs.
Left unresolved, the stalemates could
foster ideas that could have hideous consequences in the future.
Thirty years ago, the county agreed to
retain its rural character, while the cities agreed to develop infrastructures
to support higher density populations. The city councils, mayors, county
commissioners and planners saw this as the only sensible way to avoid opening
the floodgates of development and sacrificing all that makes Blaine County a
Until someone comes up with a better idea,
this is history worth repeating—over and over again.