Friday, October 6, 2006

County leaders approve Croy Creek Ranch

Express Staff Writer

Despite strong opposition from citizens in Croy Canyon, the proposed 34-lot Croy Creek Ranch subdivision received final approval Tuesday from the Blaine County Commission.

"We are very happy that the board confirmed the positive findings from Planning and Zoning," said engineer Dick Fosbury, who represented developer David Alexander at the meeting. "We never know going in what the results will be."

The development, to be built in Croy Canyon, west of Hailey, met with intense opposition from nearby homeowners, who contended it was too dense for the rural area.

"One of the reasons I moved out here three years ago was the rural character of the area," said Richard Conway at a September meeting. "One of the concerns I have with this project is that it appears to be an urban environment in a rural area."

Fosbury and Alexander's success followed at least two failed attempts to develop the McAtee Ranch property.

According to Fosbury, the previous applications required land-use-map changes and failed to supply development agreements. Fosbury and Alexander's strategy was to leave the area under Agricultural zoning and apply for a planned unit development contingent on up-zoning from A-20 to A-10. That designation—of one unit per 10 acres—is what the county granted.

"I think the board's decision to approve us is in keeping with the county's new direction toward higher density and community housing," Fosbury said. "If we had not applied, the area would have seen 11 homes out there instead of 34."

Commissioners agreed to follow many of the original Planning and Zoning Commission recommendations on the project, adding additional requirements related to Blaine County Recreation District easements, roadway improvements, fire district needs and limits on home sizes.

Commissioner Tom Bowman agreed with Commission Chairwoman Sarah Michael's motion to limit the size of the 30 dwellings planned to be built in four clusters on the meadow floor to 5,000 square feet including outbuildings. A similar motion was passed to limit to 7,500 square feet the building size on four estate-sized lots planned for hillsides to the north and south.

When questioned by the applicant why it was necessary to place a limit on the size, Bowman answered, "If you can't limit your entire living area to 5,000 square feet, you might be living in the wrong county."

Both a planned unit development and re-zoning from A-20 to A-10 were approved after two and a half hours of review, paving the way for four phases of development that will likely take place over the next five years.

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