Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Annexation ordinance gets tentative OK

Hailey may be able to soon lift moratorium

Express Staff Writer

A recently drafted annexation ordinance should help both the city of Hailey and annexation applicants move ahead with a process that has been stalled since last summer.

At the behest of the City Council, city staff presented a draft of an annexation ordinance at a council meeting Monday. Several annexation applicants are waiting for the ordinance to be approved so they can continue to pursue efforts to become part of the city.

The ordinance, which councilman Don Keirn referred to as a ?road map? was passed by title only. A final draft with refinements will be reviewed at the next City Council meeting on Monday, Nov. 8.

In August, the City Council voted to suspend all hearings on annexation applications until an ordinance and an updated Growth Management section of the Hailey Comprehensive Plan were adopted.

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission has poured over drafts of proposed Growth Management and Land Use Sections of the Hailey Comprehensive Plan. Hailey Planning Director Kathy Grotto said she expects to bring those before the City Council for review in November.

If passed, the proposed ordinance should clarify how annexations are to be reviewed by the council and the commission.

?I think it is a good document,? said Terry Hogue, a Ketchum attorney with a new office in Hailey, who is representing the developers of Quigley Canyon. ?It?s going to give you some good guidance.?

The document should help applicants as well, as they will be able to know where they are in the review process and what studies are required when. For example, under the new ordinance, before an annexation application comes before the commission, traffic, floodplain, avalanche, wetland, wildlife and environmental studies will need to be completed. However, any fiscal impact study would only need to be completed if an application is forwarded to the City Council for review.

Council members said they liked the new ordinance in part because it preserves the city?s discretionary ability to set annexation fees as the city sees fit. Any impact fees will be assigned separately and are prescribed specifically according to Hailey ordinance.

Mayor Susan McBryant was pleased with the progress staff made on the document.

?We needed an annexation ordinance to give us steps and procedures, guidelines that are generally applicable,? she said.

McBryant added that specifics about annexations can be found elsewhere in Hailey ordinance but the new procedural ordinance is open enough to allow for political judgments.

Once an application reaches the council, the city can look at the impacts and determine from all the information provided, including the fiscal impact study, whether proposed annexation fees will cover the impact to the city.

The annexation ordinance also clarifies that concurrent applications, such as text amendments, planned-unit development agreements or conditional-use permits, will be reviewed only after an annexation application is approved.

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