Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Hailey considers residential in Airport West

Accessory dwelling units would be for business owners and employees only

Express Staff Writer

Owners of commercial buildings in the Airport West subdivision may soon be allowed to construct residential units on the second floor. Photo by David N. Seelig

Living where you work can be an attractive option to those who would rather stay put at the end of the day than commute to a separate dwelling across town. Yet zoning restrictions in industrial zones often prohibit using a business property as a residence.

That may soon change for the Airport West subdivision in Hailey.

Airport West Business Park property owners are pushing to amend an annexation agreement with the city of Hailey to allow residential units in the northern portion of the subdivision west of Friedman Memorial Airport. The change would permit construction of accessory dwelling units above businesses there.

"Our intent is that the accessory dwelling units be used for business owners and their key employees," said Airport West Business Park Owners Association representative Matt Engel. "It would provide them an affordable place to live."

Engel polled 97 individual owners of the 17 lots in Airport West in December to measure support for the plan. He presented the results of the poll to the Hailey City Council on Monday.

Of the 17 lots in the subdivision, the owners of 11 voted in favor and one voted against the proposed changes. Two lots abstained. Three of the lots were not represented in person or by proxy.

Councilwoman Martha Burke supported the inclusion of residential units in Airport West, saying it was essentially "workforce housing." Mayor Rick Davis agreed, saying "the city needs places where people can work without using their cars."

Councilman Fritz Haemmerle and Don Keirn expressed concern about having children in the area, an issue that could be addressed by the Airport West Owners Association through its own covenants, codes and restrictions.

"We are hoping to use common sense in moving forward with this," said James Whitney, who is building a warehouse and long-term parking facility in the subdivision 500 feet from the airport terminal.

"The accessory dwelling units will make buildings more useful to business owners," he said. "They are not meant to be rental units on the open market, but rather a tool of the business. I would use mine for personal uses also to some degree."

Airport West is in the city's Service Commercial Industrial zone, which permits dwelling units within mixed-use buildings.

The Airport West Business Park property owners were instructed by the council to draw up more specific uses for the proposed accessory dwelling units before returning to City Hall.

No date has been set to address the issue further.

Tony Evans:

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