Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Hailey questions need for 139-acre annexation

Express Staff Writer

When cities consider annexation applications, their greatest concern is typically the benefits and impacts the city would likely see should such a proposal be approved.

Although that was definitely a part of the discussion Monday as the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission considered for the first time a proposal to annex 139 acres east of Woodside Boulevard, the commission's greatest amount of time was spent on a separate-but-related issue.

Leading the charge was Hailey P&Z Commissioner Trent Jones.

Jones questioned why the annexation applicants—Water Gulch T.I.C. and Ketchum resident Bob Dreyer—wouldn't be served just as well by remaining under the jurisdiction of Blaine County.

After all, Jones pointed out, the applicants are only requesting to build a "family compound" or a single home with an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on the 138.87-acre property. Blaine County zoning in place on the property already allows for such a project to take place, he said.

"What is compelling to you as the owner to come into the city?" Jones asked Dreyer. "What could you do in the city that you couldn't do in the county?"

Responding, Dreyer said the annexation is the right thing to do and is a win-win situation for the city.

Explaining, he said the only way to access the property is through the city. The undeveloped property being proposed for annexation is located just east of the new Woodside Elementary School and is centered on Water Gulch Road.

If the property remains in the county, the city would still experience the same traffic impacts from the property.

"As the last guy on the block, we should be part of the city," Dreyer said.

Furthermore, they are proposing to have their own power and water sources and won't be an added burden to the city, he said.

The annexation applicants are also proposing to donate about 79 acres of mostly hillside lands on the property to the city, Dreyer said.

"What you gain out of this is a controlling of your visual hillside," he said.

Still, Jones wasn't entirely convinced. "I think we need to scrutinize annexations no matter how small," he said.

To that end, the P&Z chose to delay making any decision on the annexation until they receive further information from Blaine County clarifying their position on development in the area. The P&Z also said they would like additional information on what if any zoning changes the area might see as part of the ongoing Blaine County 2025 planning process.

"As much context as we can get for this would be helpful," Jones said.

Although in agreement, P&Z Commissioner Elizabeth Zellers said she's not necessarily against the proposed annexation. "I just need more information," Zellers said.

The Hailey P&Z will discuss the proposed annexation again on Nov. 6.

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