Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Moratorium restricts Hailey development

Move allows review of Townsite Overlay District rules

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council voted Monday to approve a moratorium on a variety of development activities in the city's Townsite Overlay District.

The council made the decision to initiate the moratorium to give city employees and elected officials time to revisit many of the requirements set forth in a recent text amendment to the district. The May 4 amendment—referred to as the James Reed Amendment, after the Hailey resident who originally proposed it—reduced the minimum lot size in the city's Townsite Overlay District to 4,500 square feet.

The passage of the James Reed Amendment stirred up significant resentment in recent months from many Hailey residents who live in the district and are fearful the changes could potentially impact the quality of life in their neighborhoods.

The Townsite Overlay District includes portions of five separate zoning districts: the Limited Residential District (LR), the General Residential District (GR), the Transitional District (TN), the Business District (B), and the Limited Business District (LB). The district essentially encompasses Old Hailey, the gridded, historic part of the city.

Although the City Council authorized the moratorium to last up to one year, they could in the future decide to shorten it after hearing public comment and possibly making changes to the Townsite Overlay District.

Not all construction projects in the district will be delayed due to the moratorium. Development activities subject to restriction by the moratorium are:

· Subdivisions that result in lots smaller than 8,000 square feet in the Limited Residential portion of the Townsite Overlay.

· Building permits for new residential projects in the entire Townsite Overlay District. Building permits for additions and remodels are not restricted, however.

· Building permits for accessory dwelling units in the entire Townsite Overlay District.

· Permits for building demolition.

City Council member Don Keirn voted to approve the moratorium despite his opposition to including a restriction on issuing demolition permits. Keirn had hoped to continue allowing demolition permits to be issued because the council is currently in the process of creating a separate ordinance to regulate that practice.

Keirn said certain instances could require a structure to be demolished, such as in the case when a building has been condemned and is a public safety nuisance. Still, Keirn's concerns weren't enough to sway his vote. "I'll go along with this," he said.

Many of the Hailey residents who attended Monday night's meeting asked the City Council to apply the restriction on subdivisions resulting in lots smaller than 8,000 square feet to the General Residential District as well.

Hailey resident Kim Johnson, while saying she does favor the moratorium, said the restriction on lots smaller than 8,000 square feet should also be applied to the GR zone. "The same problems that apply to the LR apply to the GR," Johnson said.

In the end, though, the council disagreed and voted to approve the moratorium without applying the 8,000 square foot lot size restriction to the General Residential District.

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