Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Hailey council may revise moratorium

Express Staff Writer

Hailey city officials want to soften the city's moratorium on building activity in the city's downtown core.

Proposed revisions to the moratorium for the city's downtown overlay district would loosen restrictions on the demolition of certain, newer buildings but retain them for historic buildings.

The moratorium, put in place by the council on Dec. 12, restricts a variety of development activities within the townsite overlay district, including the demolition of buildings. The district is essentially that portion of downtown Hailey also referred to as Old Hailey.

In a memo read to the City Council Monday, City Attorney Ned Williamson suggested the council consider amending "the portion of the townsite overlay moratorium that prohibits the demolition of any building regardless of its age."

The council should consider revising the moratorium because development of the demolition ordinance has taken longer than originally anticipated, Williamson said.

The city council liked what it heard.

Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn said the act of creating a demolition ordinance for a historic district is not something to be taken lightly. Keirn said he helped implement such a historic district while working for the city of Boise.

"I just didn't want anybody to think this is something you just walk into," he said.

Keirn said the city should first establish a historic district before it begins regulating the demolition of certain historical buildings.

"You identify the district, then you have to notify everyone in it," he said.

Hailey City Council members first discussed the draft demolition ordinance, written by the Hailey Historic Preservation Commission, at a public meeting on May 22. It would, if eventually passed into law, regulate how, if and when certain buildings could be razed to make way for new development projects.

Based on Williamson's recommendation, the City Council Monday decided to consider revising the demolition restrictions on buildings in the townsite overlay district that are less than 50 years of age.

Buildings that may be a safety hazard could also be considered for demolition under the revised moratorium, if the council enacts the proposed changes.

Near the end of the Monday meeting, council members voted to continue discussing the possible amendment on June 26.

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