Friday, May 29, 2009

Should Hailey honor agreement with county?

Debate over area of city impact complicates review of development plan

Express Staff Writer

A debate about who can exert control over land in Quigley Canyon east of Hailey has complicated the process of considering a plan to develop the area.

In 1994, the city of Hailey and Blaine County completed an area-of-city-impact agreement and map establishing where the city could annex land from surrounding parcels in the county.

The Hailey City Council is now considering a proposal to annex into the city about 1,100 acres of Quigley Canyon and develop the area with 379 home sites, a golf course and other public amenities. About 30 percent of the proposed annexation and development would fall outside of the established boundary for potential annexations by the city.

Does that mean the city and county should revise their agreement?

In a letter to the city dated June 1, 2008, Blaine County Regional Planner Jeff Adams requested that the city honor the original area-of-city-impact agreement. He stated that areas of the proposed development that fall outside the area of city impact in Dead Man's Gulch and above Quigley Pond should be considered under county jurisdiction "until they are negotiated and amended with Blaine County,"

The county and the city of Hailey have yet to agree on a newer version of the area-of-city-impact agreement. Negotiations between the city and county to designate a new area of city impact stalled in January and have not resumed, officials from both sides said.

Adams said he believes the area-of-city-impact issue should be addressed in the review of the Quigley application.

"This is the most important time right now to discuss this," Adams said in an interview.

The area-of-city-impact agreement states that "Hailey shall limit its annexation to those lands within the area of city impact. Should the city plan to annex lands not in the area of city impact, the city shall negotiate with Blaine County to amend the area of city impact."

The area that falls outside of the area of city impact is mostly in Dead Man's Gulch and above Quigley Pond, areas that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game has deemed too environmentally sensitive for development.

Hailey resident and attorney Martin Flannes spoke at a recent public hearing on the Quigley plan, saying the city should adhere to the original agreement.

"If the county has not agreed to amend its 1994 agreement, Hailey has agreed to limit its ability to annex land outside of its area of city impact," Flannes said in an interview.

City Attorney Ned Williamson disagrees.

In a memo sent to the Hailey City Council on May 22, he recommended that the city abide by its 1999 version of the area-of-city-impact ordinance that Blaine County has not agreed to, saying the 1994 agreement was "in conflict with state law."

The 1999 area of city impact has expanded boundaries in the upper reaches of Quigley Canyon and would allow for development in Dead Man's Gulch, where developer David Hennessey hopes to build a number of large homes.

Williamson also told the City Council that the developer's plans to build above Quigley Pond could be accommodated by amending the city's Comprehensive Plan, expanding its boundaries to include these areas. The Comprehensive Plan is a guiding land-use document for the city.

"You could instruct the Planning and Zoning Commission to make these changes," Williamson said.

Blaine County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Tim Graves did not return a telephone call seeking comment on the issue. Graves has spoken in favor of the proposed development at public hearings as a citizen of Hailey.

The city hopes to make a decision about the development plan in June.

Tony Evans:

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