Friday, April 28, 2006

Hailey to revise parks ordinance

Express Staff Writer

Hailey developers may soon have several new components of the city's parks-dedication requirements to contend with when they apply for development permits.

Hailey Planning and Zoning commissioners reviewed the suggested changes to the requirements for the first time Monday, April 17.

The changes—which have been proposed by the Hailey Parks and Lands Board—would alter several subsections of the Hailey subdivision ordinance related to parks dedication.

Originally implemented by the Hailey City Council in 2004, the ordinance requires developers of residential subdivisions that consist of nine or more dwelling units to dedicate a set amount of land as park space based on a specified formula. As an alternative to providing actual park space, though, the ordinance also allows developers to provide in-lieu fees for the appraised value of that amount of land if they gain the approval of the City Council.

Since the ordinance's inception, the city has received, or is in the process of receiving, more than $565,000 in in-lieu contributions, one small park and trail sections throughout town.

Despite the success of the parks ordinance, however, a few relatively minor changes would make it much more effective, said Hailey parks project coordinator Becki Keefer. "This is a relatively new ordinance," Keefer said. "It just needs to be tweaked."

Based on the recommendations of the Parks and Lands Board, the following amendments have been proposed:

· The definition of parks has been expanded to include cultural or social amenities. These parks would be smaller units less than one-quarter acre in size located in the Business, Limited Business and Transitional zoning districts.

· The minimum size of subdivisions where developers would be required to provide parks space would be reduced from nine to three units.

· Where subdivisions are located in the Business, Limited Business and Transition zoning districts, the area required for a park would be reduced by 75 percent. This amendment was added based on statements by developers who said the parks requirement is a disincentive for mixed-use residential and commercial development, something the city has stated that it wishes to promote. As it currently stands, developers who wish to avoid the requirement can simply build commercial-only developments, they said.

· How in-lieu payments are calculated has also been proposed for change. Rather than letting the developer say which part of a property is appraised to determine in-lieu fees, the city would make that determination.

In the end, P&Z commissioners voted to continue discussing the matter at their May 15 meeting.

Whatever decision the P&Z commissioners make on the suggested amendments would only be advisory in nature. Once commissioners make their recommendation, the proposal will then be forwarded to the Hailey City Council for a final decision.

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