Friday, September 15, 2006

Hailey P&Z approves First Avenue rezone

Change will allow some business use

Express Staff Writer

Despite opposition from nearby homeowners, the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday approved a rezone for a block and a half of First Avenue that will allow more business development there.

The approval is a recommendation that will be considered by the City Council.

The rezone, from General Residential to Transitional, had been requested by the six owners of 10 lots between Pine and Elm streets.

Permitted uses in the Transitional zone include professional offices and day-care centers. Conditional uses include bed and breakfasts.

The change would create an uninterrupted section of Transitional zoning on First Avenue between Walnut and Chestnut streets.

Seven neighbors who attended the meeting complained of a "creep" of commercial use into Old Hailey's residential area.

"It pretty much just marches down the block," said Peter Lamb. "At some point we have to say, 'OK, that's enough. We don't want to go any farther into Old Hailey.'"

However, Planning Director Kathy Grotto pointed out that the Transitional zone is intended to exist along only one side of a street facing a business zone, and should not infringe farther into a residential area.

Commission Chairwoman Kristin Anderson said the area, near Pine Street Station, had become busy enough that Transitional zoning was appropriate.

With Commissioner Nancy Linscott having recused herself, only Commissioner Stefanie Marvel voted against the application.

"The infill that we really should be encouraging is in the business zone where we have empty lots," she said.

Regarding the initial rezone application considered by the P&Z and a similar one applying to only one lot, several speakers at the meeting expressed concerns that rezones to Transitional might encourage demolition of small houses with historical value. However, Commissioner Trent Jones said he thought property owners could better afford to maintain historical buildings if they had more lucrative options for using them.

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