Friday, March 9, 2007

Old Cutters dispute still unresolved

Blaine County hearing continued to March 14

Express Staff Writer

Access to the Old Cutters subdivision, located in northeastern Hailey, above, has led to a dispute between the developer and Blaine County over the development?s impacts on county roads and existing subdivisions. Photo by David N. Seelig

The fate of the northern portion of the Old Cutters subdivision in northeastern Hailey is still suspended in a state of limbo due to ongoing issues over the location of a road accessing the development.

The Hailey City Council granted in February preliminary plat approval of the southern portion of the 149-unit development, which has been in the works for more than three years.

Approval of the northern portion, which is adjacent to the long-existing Buttercup subdivision in Blaine County, has been delayed due to an ongoing dispute between the developer and the city of Hailey, and Blaine County.

Specifically, Blaine County has concerns about the new subdivision's impact on Hiawatha Drive, which is located in the county and would likely cost more to maintain due to increased traffic.

Additionally, the developer, John Campbell, wants to open the northern stub of South Hiawatha Drive to access his subdivision, which has angered residents in the Buttercup subdivision.

"This stub adversely affects our property," said Deon Wells, who along with his wife, Phyllis, has lived in the Buttercup subdivision for 32 years. Wells spoke at a public hearing before the Blaine County Commission Tuesday, March 6. "We're opposed to you opening it."

Phyllis Wells succumbed to tears while reading a letter to the County Commission explaining that the opening of the stub would destroy their way of life. The Wells' home would be located adjacent to the new road.

The Wells were backed by a half-dozen other Buttercup subdivision residents, many arguing that the developers did little to work with them to mitigate the impacts.

Additionally, Dennis Wright, a former Blaine County Commission member, urged the council to retain a county standard that seeks to preserve the character of existing subdivisions in the face of new development.

"I think you're really on the high ground here as long as you protect that standard," he said. "It's possible to accommodate growth, but it doesn't have to strictly come at the cost of what's already here."

Campbell and his attorney, James Speck, countered that they have been working on this project for several years and have done everything possible to mitigate impacts to existing residents, including making the development less dense in the northern portion.

"We've designed our subdivision to impact them as little as possible," Campbell said.

He added that when Buttercup residents bought their properties they knew that the South Hiawatha stub existed and that it could eventually be opened to access future development.

While both the Blaine County Commission and Speck spoke about potential solutions to the problem, the hearing was continued to March 14 at 8:30 a.m. in the Old County Courthouse in Hailey.

A final solution is expected at that time.

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