Dominoes fall on Broadford Road
Local residents lose fight against new subdivisions
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Several subdivisions have recently been approved in the Broadford Road area, and the changes are dramatic for the area?s residents. Photo by David N. Seelig
The meadows and cottonwood stands along Broadford Road south of Hailey look much like they have for the last 40 years. It’s an almost stereotypical country setting where horses graze on thriving grasses and wood fences extend in neat, contemplative rows.
This is a part of Blaine County where, until recently, change came slowly and where residents want things to stay pretty much as they are.
But that’s probably wishful thinking. With a number of privately owned fields and pastures, there is ample developable land.
County leaders have approved a number of Broadford Road subdivisions, totaling more than 500 acres, in the last several years. Despite resistance from the area’s residents, the first dominoes have fallen, and more are likely to tumble.
“There are new houses coming up all along the way,” said Mary Anderson, a 10-year resident of the area who is sandwiched between two of the new sub-divisions. “It’s all over. I fought for 10 years. We had a regular committee. We got signatures from all over the county pleading with the powers to leave it as a recreational road with rural character, but it didn’t seem to do much good. We went to meetings, meetings, meetings and begged, pleaded and remonstrated, but it failed.”
Anderson said the ongoing approval of developments along Broadford Road convinces people that money counts more than citizen voices.
“I was working for all those years to keep it nice for people, not necessarily for myself, even though I now have all this stuff going on around me,” she said.
The character of the area is similar, though rapidly changing, to what it was in 1977, when Sharon and Jack Parker moved into their Broadford Road home.
“The thing about this road is the beauty of this area,” said Sharon Parker, who has helped lead a citizen brigade against the new developments. “It’s one of the last quiet, rural types of places between Bellevue and Ketchum. Everything else has been usurped by the very, very rich.”
Parker said the area is important for recreation and for wildlife. What’s more, she said the old, bumpy road can’t handle increases in traffic the new devel-opments will bring.
“I just think it’s like an open-space park that’s already intact. This is open space that’s already here, so let’s leave it alone,” she said. “I try not to be bitter about it, but we’ve lived here 41 years. I understand the economic part of it, but, on the other hand, do we want to look like Boise, Idaho?”
Blaine County Senior Planner Tom Bergin said it is difficult to predict what the Broadford Road area might look like if development continues. Much of the privately owned land is in the Big Wood River’s floodplain. There are floodplain, hillside, 5-acre residential and 1-acre residential zoning designations.
“We’ve struggled to come up with any build-out estimates because of the floodplain,” Bergin said. “It’s just an interesting area, with wildlife, wetlands and hillsides. It’s just a really unique area.”
For her part, Parker said she got out of the real estate business years ago.
“It’s selling your soul,” she said, referencing the entire Wood River Valley. “I could not sell off the place that I love.”