Friday, March 16, 2007

Old Cutters sparks new county roads policy

Officials wants to avoid future disputes over subdivision access

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County officials want to get it better the next time developers seek use of county roads to access subdivisions. Commissioners decided Thursday to draw up a new policy to address traffic impacts and county roads mitigation for all future housing developments.

The new policy, which will be drafted over the next couple of months, was pushed to the surface by a dispute that erupted over the past few months between the county and developers of the Old Cutters subdivision on the northeast end of Hailey.

Old Cutters was annexed into the city of Hailey last year, but a key road that would provide access to the development's northern entrance is located in the county. The increased traffic caused by the development would stress the county's roads and strain the quiet lifestyle of residents in the existing Buttercup subdivision, county officials claimed.

The concerns led to yet another delay for the Old Cutters developers, who have been seeking approval on the subdivision for close to four years. Blaine County and the city of Hailey also disagreed on events that transpired during the hearing process, with the city siding with the developers. A period of finger-pointing ensued before both sides agreed they could have worked with each other better.

The county and the developers reached a solution on Wednesday and the subdivision was given the green light. But the incident is not one that county officials want to relive.

"Old Cutters pointed out the lack of a systematic way to approach these things," Blaine County Commission Chairman Tom Bowman said Thursday morning during a study session at the Old County Courthouse. "Right now we're talking about how to establish relationships with the cities so this doesn't happen again."

Interim County Administrator Stan McNutt said "on every front, the wheels are moving."

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