Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hailey eyes more zoning amendments

Express Staff Writer

Although deliberating at length well into the night on Monday, Hailey Planning and Zoning commissioners adjourned for the evening without making any final decisions on a number of proposed amendments to the city's zoning ordinance.

Among other things, the changes would create both an entirely new zoning district in addition to a new overlay district in a small portion of the city's downtown core. The P&Z will continue its deliberation of the proposed amendments today, Wednesday, Sept. 20, during a 6:30 p.m. special meeting at Hailey City Hall.

The amendments are largely inspired by the upcoming November consideration by Idaho voters of Proposition 2. If approved, the property rights initiative would require governments to reimburse Idaho landowners whose property values are reduced by land-use laws enacted after the proposition became law.

If passed, Proposition 2 would become law on Nov. 22, Hailey City Attorney Ned Williamson told council members at a meeting earlier this summer.

Because any land-use laws on the books before Nov. 22 would be exempt from the new law, the city of Hailey has chosen to pursue a number of land-use changes ahead of the vote.

One amendment that met with strong support from the commission on Monday is a proposal to create a new overlay district in downtown Hailey.

According to a preliminary draft of the amended Hailey zoning ordinance, the purpose of the proposed Central Core Overlay district is to encourage economic development and conserve existing buildings within a several-block radius that essentially surrounds City Hall. To achieve this, businesses located within the district would be subject to a number of less stringent parking space requirements.

"I like this idea," P&Z Chairwoman Kristin Anderson said.

Commissioners also discussed and appeared to generally support the establishment of a new Neighborhood Business (NB) zoning district. The purpose of the district would be to provide areas for neighborhood service centers and encourage such things as better multi-modal transportation and circulation in neighborhoods.

Among the other proposed changes, the one which drew some of the lengthiest discussion on Monday was a proposal to quit allowing property owners to keep horses on their properties within the Limited Residential (LR) zoning district. The change wouldn't, however, have any effect on homeowners who already have horses.

Splitting from the rest of the P&Z, Commissioner Nancy Linscott warned that eliminating the right to have "backyard ponies" will take away from Hailey's uniquely Western charm.

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