Wednesday, November 2, 2005

Subdivision in Picabo gets P&Z nod

Express Staff Writer

The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission last week gave its approval to a proposed subdivision in Picabo that should put 15 relatively affordable residential lots on the market next year.

The Picabo Hills subdivision is part of a plan put forth by property owner Nick Purdy to move future residential development out of the town's center and away from his ranching operations there. Two years ago, the county approved his application to rezone 16 acres of residential-zoned land near Picabo's center to agricultural use, and 51 acres of land at the town's eastern end zoned for agriculture to residential use. The rezone is contingent upon approval of his subdivision application and of a replat of the town's center.

"It's all part of a package," P&Z chair Lawrence Schoen said in an interview.

The P&Z issued its recommendation on the subdivision following a public hearing Thursday, Oct. 27. Final approval awaits consideration by the county commissioners. Though it is not required by ordinance, the P&Z has requested that it review the replat application before it goes to the county commission.

The proposed Picabo Hills subdivision consists of eight 2.5-acre residential lots and five 5-acre lots zoned for residential or agricultural use, as well as nine commercial lots at its western end. The lots are spread out over a mile along the southern side of Highway 20.

Purdy's plan has been met with a generally positive response from Picabo residents. Comments at Thursday's hearing dealt only with details.

Members of the public and the commissioners both emphasized that even though the plan's intent is to separate ranching and farming operations from residential development, the whole area will remain agricultural in character.

"I'm looking at this subdivision in terms of what the comprehensive plan says about the rural character of the valley," Commissioner Donald Nurge said. "Let the buyer beware. When you buy something next to the trucks and the dust and the potato cellars and the dirt roads, so be it. That's the rural character of Idaho."

Citing that rural character, the commissioners turned down a proposal by county staff to pave First Street, which runs along the southern side of the subdivision. They also asked that language be included in the subdivision's conditions that two potato cellars at its eastern end be assured of continued operations.

Purdy told the commission he plans to have the subdivision's infrastructure completed by next summer. He said that as lots there are sold, he will continue to use unsold lots for pasture.

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