Friday, November 3, 2006

Rinker proposes 69 homes on Peregrine Ranch

Plan includes 9-hole golf course; Hailey annexation not necessary

Express Staff Writer

Developer Harry Rinker has downsized his plans for Peregrine Ranch, north of Hailey.

Harry Rinker has abandoned attempts to annex his 160-acre Peregrine Ranch property into Hailey, instead opting to go through the county to meet his development aspirations.

Rinker met with the Blaine County Commission Tuesday to introduce his plans for a 69-lot planned unit development and nine-hole golf course on Peregrine Ranch, which is located north of Hailey in unincorporated Blaine County.

Rinker, who is partnered with The Valley Club on the project, claims the development will result in the first 36-hole golf course in Idaho. Twenty-seven of those holes will be on Valley Club property, across Buttercup Road.

He said the extent to which the public will be permitted to use the course will be up to The Valley Club, but that the club has committed to a free golf program for community children.

Tuesday's meeting with the commissioners was designed to discuss community housing in the project. Last spring, Blaine County passed an inclusionary housing ordinance requiring all future developments in the county to include 20 percent affordable housing.

Specifically, the commissioners were curious about whether the required community housing units would be located on or off site.

Rinker said the development is still too conceptual to address specific housing questions but that he was meeting with Drew Sanderford, associate director of the Blaine Ketchum Housing Authority, to develop a plan.

But the project will likely garner more attention for its potential impact on wildlife habitat—especially elk and deer—during the public hearing phase, which has yet to be set.

About 50 to 75 elk graze on Peregrine Ranch during the winter months, according to David Parrish, regional supervisor for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game's Magic Valley Region.

As a sidebar to the plan, Rinker said he wants to place a portion of a 40-acre parcel owned by his son into a permanent conservation easement for elk habitat. That land is located west of state Highway 75 along the Big Wood River near Deer Creek. It already supports habitat for elk, deer and moose, Parrish said.

Parrish said he's met with Rinker twice to discuss his most recent 69-unit proposal and that it's much more favorable than his former development plans.

"Quite honestly if that land is to be developed, the more open space the better and we see the golf course as a better option than homes," Parrish said. "Keep in mind we would like to see it undeveloped, but we also understand private property, and Harry has a right to develop it."

Rinker has made several attempts to develop Peregrine Ranch and only recently abandoned his annexation aspirations.

He once had plans to subdivide the ranch into 380 lots.

Peregrine Ranch is zoned R-1 (one unit of residential development per acre) and annexing the land into Hailey would have allowed for a much larger development.

The ranch is located just south of The Valley Club and north of Hailey. Wedged between the ranch and Hailey is the Silver Sage subdivision.

In September, Rinker and Nick Purdy, a fourth generation rancher who's partnered with Rinker on the proposals, sent a letter to Silver Sage homeowners offering a series of "carrots" if the small subdivision would annex into Hailey.

Among those "carrots" was full Valley Club memberships for all Silver Sage homeowners, partial coverage of Hailey city taxes, and the use of play fields and storage facilities on Peregrine Ranch.

In September, John Galgano, director of the Silver Sage homeowners' board, said it "just wasn't an attractive offer."

"There are so many things going on right now with Harry Rinker and the city of Hailey and Peregrine," he said. "We just need to see what happens with all that."

Galgano was referring to a lawsuit filed by a group of adjacent landowners against the city of Hailey regarding its dealings with Rinker.

In February 2005, Hailey city officials allegedly drafted an illegal contract with Rinker regarding sewer hookups for future development on his property. The case was under the advisement of 5th Judicial District Magistrate Judge R. Ted Israel. A decision on the case, which was expected last month, is still pending.

Rod Kegley, a local developer who owns a subdivision adjacent to Peregrine Ranch and is a party in the lawsuit, said Rinker's new plans threaten an irrigation canal on his property.

Kegley said Rinker is "completely ignoring" the concerns of local landowners.

"The problem is Rinker doesn't think he has to work out anything," Kegley said. "He won't even talk to me about what I think about putting a golf course and 20 homes on top of my irrigation canal.

"I think he should look at some of the problems he has and come up with a plan the county accepts."

Rinker said he's eager to continue working with the county, Fish and Game and the Housing Authority on his plan.

"This is a great opportunity for the community," Rinker said. "I hope they don't miss this."

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