Friday, April 7, 2006

Croy development draws fire

Subdivision, senior center, school proposed one mile west of Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Plans to develop a subdivision near the confluence of Croy Creek and the Big Wood River, one mile west of Hailey, were met Tuesday with widespread opposition during a Blaine County Commission meeting.

Known as the Croy Canyon Ranch subdivision, the proposal includes an extended-care facility and school. But it also includes the alteration of about 1,500 square feet of Croy Creek and filling approximately 3,800 square feet of wetlands—the primary reason for the opposition.

"I understand the need for the county to subdivide ... but this sets a bad precedent for wetland protection," said Allison Kennedy, planning coordinator for the Wood River Land Trust.

Kennedy's statements were echoed by several other citizens and groups—including Citizens for Smart Growth—who feel the proposal is inappropriate given the sensitivity of the lands it could impact and the lack of information provided. The details of the proposal are still murky.

Kaz Thea, a wildlife ecologist from Hailey, said county commissioners should not continue to review the project until more information is made available to the public.

"I'm really confused why we're looking at this today," Thea said. "It doesn't seem fair to ask for public input ... it seems like we need more information.

"How are you going to be able to thumbs ups or thumbs down this when you don't have the necessary information?"

Although a county moratorium on new subdivisions is in effect, the commission is able to consider the proposal because it promises to devote 50 percent of the development to public facilities—a qualification that exempts the project from the moratorium.

Ketchum attorney Barry Luboviski, who's representing Spring Canyon Ranch, a proposed development four miles out Croy Canyon, complained that commissioners didn't provide adequate notice of the hearing.

"I'm very supportive of the senior center and its efforts and I'm willing to work with them to make it a reality," Luboviski said. "But you need to look at your procedures for notifying the public."

Another attorneys also said his client was made aware of the hearing only a few days prior.

"What we would like is a little more time," Luboviski said.

The commissioners will conduct a thorough site visit on April 27 and continue the hearing that afternoon at 1:30 p.m.

John Gaeddert, who's representing the applicant, William Simons, said much of the proposal has been misunderstood by the public and that his client intends to mitigate the impacts on the environment. He said the site visit and pending details of the project should alleviate many concerns.

"That's the great thing about working for public entities—they know they're accountable," he said.

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