Friday, March 31, 2006

Blaine County 2025 hearings start Thursday

P&Z to review sweeping changes to county zoning


By STEVE BENSON
Express Staff Writer

After two years of workshops, open houses and public feedback, Blaine County's "2025 Preferred Scenario" will move into its next phase Thursday, April 6, with the first scheduled hearing.

The Blaine County 2025 process was developed in response to an anticipated major growth surge—it's estimated that the county's population will increase by at least 50 percent over the next 20 years.

Last fall, the public was asked to participate in an outreach campaign to determine how the county should accommodate the anticipated growth. The campaign was a joint effort between the county and Clarion Associates, a Colorado-based consultant group. The campaign indicated that residents of Blaine County want to focus growth in the cities; limit growth in the unincorporated areas of the county; conserve natural resources and agricultural land; increase protection of environmentally sensitive areas such as wetlands, streams, and hillsides; and afford landowners a reasonable use of their property.

With a moratorium on new subdivisions in effect, the county's planning staff spent the past few months drafting a series of proposed ordinances to best reflect the public's desires.

All of the proposed ordinances can be found on the county's Web site at www.co.blaine.id.us/moratorium.

The major zoning changes proposed include a reclassification of A10 (unproductive agriculture) lands to a new classification called RR40 (remote and rural). RR40 land would strict development to one unit per 40 acres.

Land zoned A20 is also subject to change in remote areas of the county.

The Bellevue Triangle area south of Baseline Road could also see major change, specifically in terms of options for landowners. Designated as an agricultural/wetlands protection area, development is discouraged. But through a proposed transfer of development rights (TDR) program, landowners would be able to send their development rights to a receiving area north of Pero Road in the tip of the triangle south of Bellevue. The ordinance is designed to discourage development in the agricultural/wetlands protection area and promote density closer to Bellevue without eliminating options for landowners.

Natural resources could receive additional protection through a series of proposed ordinances, including setbacks in wetlands, riparian and critical wildlife habitat areas, and increased development restrictions in the floodplain and hillsides.

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Public Hearing

The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission will kick off its "2025 Preferred Scenario" hearings Thursday, April 6, at 6:30 p.m. in the Community Campus (old high school) auditorium, at 1050 Fox Acres Road in Hailey. View all proposed ordinances at www.co.blaine.id.us/moratorium.




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