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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2004


‘Road to nowhere’ denied

Sun Valley rejects plan for Triumph Springs access

Express Staff Writer

Another chapter in the long saga of Triumph Springs was logged last week, when Sun Valley City Council members rejected a controversial request to build a road into the hillside property.

The decision was rendered Thursday, July 15, after an attorney for developer Lane Ranch Partnership appealed to the council to permit a private access road to its Outdoor-Recreation zoned land on the southwest side of Dollar Mountain.

The proceedings were highlighted by a set of succinct comments from council members declaring their firm opposition to the proposed road. Council President Ann Agnew said she would not support a plan to build the road without first knowing what purpose it would serve.

"To me, this is a road to nowhere," Agnew said.

She added: "There is access to this property. It’s called Elkhorn Road."

Councilman Blair Boand said the road would almost certainly require large degrees of cutting into hillsides that are protected by the city’s so-called "Hillside Ordinance."

Lane Ranch attorney Gary Slette argued that the landowners have the right to access to their property without proposing a specific land-use application.

"Is the city telling us we are not allowed to have vehicular access to the property for permitted uses?" he asked.

The debate over the use of the 166-acre Triumph Springs property has endured for some three years, starting with a 2001 application by Lane Ranch Partnership to rezone a portion of the site.

The 2001 application was made to accommodate the development of a new Triumph Springs subdivision, which would include seven new residential lots. It included a proposal to build an access road into the area.

After the city denied the application, attorneys for Lane Ranch in January 2002 filed an application to build a road that was strikingly similar to the first road proposed.

City planners eventually deemed the Lane Ranch road application deficient.

Meanwhile, the developers filed a lawsuit against the city alleging the city’s decision to deny the proposed subdivision was an "unlawful taking." The suit demanded compensation of more than $10 million.

Six of seven counts listed in the lawsuit were essentially dismissed last year by the Idaho 5th District Court, in Hailey. However, because one count was not dismissed the case was not absolutely resolved.

In October 2003, attorneys for Lane Ranch Partnership renewed their road request.

Evan Robertson, an attorney for Lane Ranch Partnership, argued in a letter to the city that the partnership was considering non-residential development of the property, possibly for cross-country skiing facilities or a commercial equestrian facility.

Last February, Community Development Director Jack Cloud determined the developers should first gain approval of an appropriate development application before being allowed to build an access road.

The Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission last April upheld Cloud’s determination.

In appealing the matter to the council, Slette—assuring city officials that the move was not "contentious"—asked the council to reverse Cloud’s decision and approve the access road.

Agnew said she did not understand why the development partnership would need a road into the open-space at Triumph Springs without concurrently proposing a specific plan to use or develop the site.

The appeal was denied—rather abruptly—with a 4-0 vote against Lane Ranch Partnership.

The original Triumph Springs development proposal issued by Lane Ranch Partnership in 2001 called for seven residential lots and an access road to the property from Elkhorn Road. A new proposal called for a road in the same location. The Outdoor-Recreation zoned site is located immediately north of Elkhorn Road, across from Lane Ranch subdivision.


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