Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Hailey P&Z sinks proposed development

Area seen as town's northern 'gateway'

Express Staff Writer

Objecting primarily to a lack of park space, the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday turned down a proposed 65-unit residential development at the city's northern end.

Developer Bill Abide had applied for annexation of a 13-acre parcel located between state Highway 75 and Northridge subdivision, just south of West Meadow Drive. Called Logan's Run, his proposed project would include nine multi-unit buildings and 34 single-family homes. The three- and four-unit "town homes" would front Highway 75. Plans called for the densely grouped buildings to surround four ponds.

Abide's application had been received one month before Hailey's subdivision moratorium went into effect July 1.

During discussion at Monday's public hearing, P&Z commissioners stated they felt the parcel was appropriate for annexation, but not with the development as proposed, and not without coordinating it with the annexation of adjacent properties. The proposal was not denied, which would have made it subject to the moratorium, but tabled, meaning that Abide can re-apply at any time.

Statements made by both commissioners and residents indicated that the project was receiving particularly close scrutiny since it would function as the town's northern "gateway."

Abide began his presentation by stating that through the project's layout, architecture and extensive landscaping, he intended to "raise the bar" on the quality of residential development in Hailey. The contention was not met with enthusiasm.

"I've sat here over the years and listened to developers promise that but they come here with an application that doesn't raise the bar," Commission Vice Chairman Trent Jones said.

Nearby resident Brian Ahern said that with its ponds and cul-de-sacs, the proposed development "looks like a condo complex in Florida."

He also contended the development was too dense for its surroundings.

At least two P&Z members, however, supported the proposed density.

"Density in clusters tends to eliminate sprawl outwards," said Commissioner Nancy Linscott. "You've got to put density somewhere."

However, commissioners stated that density needs to be complemented by open space, and that that space must appear inviting to the public.

"I think it gives the sense of a gated community, even though there are no gates," Commissioner Stephanie Marvel said of the proposal. "The ponds and green spaces are behind the houses. They do not present as a public park."

Commissioners stated that for the proposed annexation to be beneficial to the town, it would have to provide fees to help fund construction of a nearby fire station. Planning Director Kathy Grotto said the city risks losing its good fire rating, which would affect homeowners' insurance rates, if many more houses get built more than 1.5 miles from the Hailey Fire Station.

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