Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hailey seeks input on city services

Fiscal impact study for Quigley Annexation to include focus groups

Express Staff Writer

Heather Dawson

Hailey residents will receive a survey questionnaire in their January utility bills asking their opinions about city services: law enforcement, snow removal, water delivery and other taxpayer-funded services.

The survey will mark the beginning of a fiscal-impact study to assess the city's public service needs in light of an annexation request by Quigley Green Owners LLC, which could bring more than 1,000 acres in Quigley Canyon into the city limits. Developer David Hennessy plans to build as many as 379 homes in the canyon if his request for annexation is approved by the City Council.

Annexation provides access to city services and would allow higher building density than under the current county zoning.

"We are trying to assess what amount of annexation fees to ask from the developer," said Hailey City Administrator Heather Dawson. "We want to know what services are strong in Hailey and which ones are weak. And we also want to know how to improve them."

After three months of public hearings and deliberations, the Planning and Zoning Commission voted in August to recommend the annexation request. However, Hennessy said after the vote that conditions set by the P&Z may prove too restrictive for him to continue working with the city. Those conditions include prohibiting building at the eastern end of the canyon above Quigley Pond and in Dead Man's Gulch, areas deemed by the Idaho Fish and Game Department to be environmentally sensitive.

Hennessy has since decided to keep working with the city.

He has offered the city multiple amenities in exchange for annexation, including an 18-hole Audubon-certified golf course, a new municipal well site, extensive biking and ski trails and a year-round clubhouse. He said the golf course alone will cost $13 million.

As part of the annexation review process, the City Council on Monday granted Richard Caplan & Associates, a municipal consulting firm based in Kansas, a contract to conduct a 90-day fiscal impact study on city services, including snow removal and law enforcement. The study will also take a look at the city's infrastructure, including parks, streets, trails and water delivery systems.

If the final annexation agreement with the city, including impact fees and annexation fees, doesn't pencil out for the developer, he can build about 120 homes on the property under county zoning.

A series of focus groups will be held in January and February (at a time and date to be announced) to gather additional public opinion on the level of services in the city.

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