Picabo rezone proposal moves ahead
Goal is to separate development from
By GREG MOORE
Express Staff Writer
The Blaine County Commissioners last week
gave tentative support to a plan to move future residential development out of
the center of Picabo to its eastern end.
The plan was put forth about a year and a
half ago by Nick Purdy, whose Picabo Livestock Co. owns much of the land in the
hamlet southeast of Bellevue. Purdy has applied for a rezone to change 16 acres
of residential-zoned land near the town’s center to agricultural use, and 51
acres of land zoned for agriculture and light industrial at the east end, just
south of Highway 20, to residential use.
Purdy’s goal is to direct development away
from his ranching operations near the center of town. Reducing conflicts there,
he says, would make for more pleasant living for future residents and help him
keep the ranch going.
"All kinds of problems have never been
solved since the land was platted in 1917," he said during the meeting on
Wednesday, Oct. 8. "What I propose to do here is to clean up a lot of loose
Purdy’s plans also include development of
an 18-lot subdivision on the newly zoned residential property. Though he
submitted the rezone and subdivision applications simultaneously, the county is
ruling on the rezone first.
The Planning and Zoning Commission
recommended approval of the application, with minor changes, last May. The
commissioners approved most of the P&Z’s findings, but minor changes and an
unresolved issue required the scheduling of a second meeting on the subject for
With Commissioner Mary Ann Mix dissenting,
the commissioners voted to change the proposed R-5 zone to R-2.5 in the western
half of the proposed residential area. Commissioner Dennis Wright said he
thought the change would allow more flexibility in drawing lot lines around the
small wetlands there.
Several Picabo residents attending the
meeting expressed approval of Purdy’s plans, but opposed that change.
"I really don’t want to see any more
development there, ever, ever," said Diane James. "People who moved there did so
because we like the open spaces."
Rebecca Tischner said denser development
should be directed to the county’s larger towns. She said the area around Picabo
should be maintained to provide habitat for the numerous wild animals there.
A question also arose regarding the
privately owned airstrip on the north side of Highway 20. Though it was not part
of Purdy’s proposal, the P&Z recommended that a 30-acre parcel north of the
airstrip be rezoned from R-1 to R-5. However, Mix pointed out that development
there might be affected by the county’s Airport Vicinity Overlay District, which
prohibits building in a "primary safety zone," consisting of a flared strip on
each side of the runway. The commissioners postponed a decision on that issue
until the November meeting, when a map of the area could be presented with the
overlay district included.
In an interview, Wright said the meeting
was made smoother and easier by previous work on the application.
"I thought the P&Z did a hell of a good
job with this," he said.