Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hailey needs timeout

Hailey's mayor and council need to declare a timeout. They need to do some thinking about how to rectify the city's wastewater planning blunders without costing city taxpayers needless sums of money.

In recent weeks, the city admitted that it might not have the sewer capacity necessary to meet its obligations. It had promised to provide hookups to 72 homes planned for Peregrine Ranch north of the city and two Croy Canyon projects, the 117-home Spring Canyon Ranch and a separate eldercare facility.

A memo obtained by this newspaper last week showed that the city's own public works director, Tom Hellen, warned against extending services.

As for the city's contract with Peregrine Ranch, heaven only knows what the city knew or didn't know before it agreed to a deal with the developer because it was crafted behind closed doors.

The city could find itself in violation of new Environmental Protection Agency standards governing how much treated waste it can discharge into the Big Wood River. It may be faced with the need to upgrade its wastewater treatment plant to the tune of $12 million.

The Croy Canyon decision turned more on emotions surrounding the possibility of a new eldercare facility than on good planning practices preventing expensive suburban sprawl.

Now before the City Council is an annexation request to allow development of 378 more homes in Quigley Canyon.

Hailey needs to step back and get its act together before it costs taxpayers money they can ill afford or makes any more promises to developers that it cannot keep.

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