Wednesday, October 11, 2006

What is the future of Old Hailey?

Express Staff Writer

The character of Old Hailey could change if the Hailey City Council stays the course it set Monday night.

The latest round in the drama of the Hailey Townsite Overlay District unveiled itself before a packed crowd at the city's Monday council meeting. During the meeting, members of the Hailey City Council discussed a number of proposed revisions to the city's zoning and subdivision ordinances.

Among the amendments under consideration are a host of changes to the rules governing the city's Townsite Overlay zoning district. These include new standards for how and when accessory dwelling units can be built and stricter requirements for the subdividing lots in Old Hailey.

Other changes under consideration include stricter requirements for when sidewalks must be built and a decrease in the maximum allowable lot coverage on the portions of various residential zoning districts that fall into the Townsite Overlay zone.

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval for the various amendments on Sept. 6.

The change that generated perhaps the greatest amount of discussion on Monday was the proposed amendment that would increase the minimum allowable lot size in the Limited Residential-1 zoning district from 4,500 to 6,000 square feet.

Comments from those in attendance were split between those who are for the increase and those who wish to see the current lot size remain.

For his part, Hailey City Councilman Don Keirn said he was happy with the proposed increase. A sign of a good compromise is when no one is entirely happy with the agreement, Keirn said.

"I guess we're about there," he said.

Old Hailey already has its share of blind intersections and a lack of sidewalks, Keirn said. Adding more density would only exacerbate the problem, he said.

"I think Old Hailey is probably dense enough," Keirn said.

A proposal to allow lots in Old Hailey to be subdivided only along the traditional east-west layout of lot lines also drew a considerable amount of discussion. The primary purpose of the proposal is to ensure that all lots have both street and alley access.

Based on a previous P&Z recommendation, however, exceptions could be granted for properties containing historic structures. Under those circumstances, the city could elect to allow a property to be subdivided on the north-south orientation to prevent a historic structure from being razed.

The exception drew the quick and unqualified support of Hailey City Council President Rick Davis.

He said he supports it "especially if it's going to protect a historic structure."

With the discussion of the proposed amendments drawing to a close, council members appeared reluctant to approve the changes Monday due to several still unresolved issues. Some of those included deciding what width the city should require for newly constructed sidewalks and a further clarification of what constitutes a historic structure.

In the end, the council chose to continue its discussion of the amendments at its Monday, Oct. 23, meeting.

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