Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Hailey balks again at Spring Canyon project

Haemmerle opposes extension of city sewer services

Express Staff Writer

What looked like a done deal for Spring Canyon Ranch developers hoping to extend city sewer services into Croy Canyon took a turn for the worse at Monday night's City Council meeting.

On his first night on the council, Fritz Haemmerle raised questions regarding procedures for extending city services outside city limits, resulting in a decision to conduct a review of city policy, followed by public comment on the proposed 115-home Spring Canyon Ranch subdivision, during a meeting set for Jan. 28

Haemmerle took issue with the city's policy to retain "sole discretion" over the extension of city services, calling it "the height of arbitrary and capricious action" to negotiate with developers on the cost of connecting to city services rather than setting a fee schedule for the services.

"The public may know about this particular project," Haemmerle said to the council. "But they don't know we are adopting a policy that will affect extensions elsewhere."

After a heated exchange with Councilwoman Carol Brown, Haemmerle said, "I am against extending city sewerage systems outside the city limits (in any case)."

Spring Canyon Ranch developers were on the verge of finalizing a deal with the city on Dec. 20 to extend city sewage services in exchange for $750,000, the construction of a $1 million bridge and impact fees in the amount of $3,500 per unit for the 115-lot development.

In addition, the developers, represented by attorney Barry Luboviski, intend to donate 10 acres of property to the neighboring Croy Canyon Ranch Foundation to assist with the development of a planned seniors care facility.

City Engineer Tom Hellen told the council that demand on city sewer services would be increased by only 2 percent by extending the line out Croy Canyon to the new development while also providing services for a proposed grade school and the proposed Hailey ice rink at Lion's Park.

"The city can handle all undeveloped lands and the new line and still be at 88 percent capacity of the existing water-treatment system," he said.

During a brief public comment period, Hulen Meadows resident Morgan Brown told the council of a "distributed wastewater management plan" already in place in Blaine County, which could take the place of bringing sewer lines into Croy Canyon. Brown is a sustainability consultant and owner of Whole Water Systems, which, among other things, creates artificial wetlands.

"The extension of sewerage systems are a major cause of urban sprawl," he said. "That is a sensitive watershed in Croy Canyon. A distributed management system will retain a valuable resource."

The Jan. 28 council meeting will include a review of city policy for extension of services outside city limits and further discussion of the proposed Spring Canyon Ranch subdivision.

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