Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Sun Valley responds to Proposition 2

Express Staff Writer

Implementation of the 2005 Sun Valley Comprehensive Plan Update is on the fast track, thanks to a private-property-rights-oriented initiative that has qualified for the November ballot.

Last week, the Sun Valley City Council agreed to immediately move forward with changes to land-use regulations previously scheduled to take place over the next two years.

"I think everything we do from this point forward should assume Proposition 2 will pass," Sun Valley City Attorney Rand Peebles said.

In light of the Proposition 2 initiative, Peebles advised the Sun Valley City Council Wednesday, July 19, to implement any foreseeable changes in the city's land-use regulations. At issue is a citizen initiative that would require Idaho counties and cities to pay landowners whose property values are decreased by land-use laws. If passed, Proposition 2 would not apply to land-use laws already in effect.

Peebles emphasized that the mandate is prospective, rather than retroactive. "To the extent you think there is anything out there that is unfinished business, now is the time to do that," he said.

The city attorney also warned the measure is fundamentally an unfunded mandate. "If cities and counties need to pay, they will have to raise taxes," he said.

The council agreed to bring its land-use regulations consistent with the 2005 comprehensive plan update, the city's guiding land-use document, before the November election.

The council's list of land-use changes includes regulations such as residential mass and scale guidelines, creation of an open space zone, workforce housing ordinance updates, historic preservation measures and rezoning portions of the city.

To expedite the code-writing process, the council voted to hire consultant Lee Einsweiler, of Texas-based Code Studio. Einsweiler is under contract to write Sun Valley's Commercial Core mass and scale land-use codes.

The council agreed to allocate $33,700 to hire the consultant. Funds will come from the 2005-2006 budget. Einsweiler is expected to complete the code writing in four weeks. The proposed codes will then be brought forward in October for public comment.

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