The Hailey City Council will begin deliberations July 14 on the possible annexation of 1,100 acres of private land in Quigley Canyon. After the avalanche of quality input provided by experts and private citizens, I hope city leaders will heed the advice they have received. Four compelling reasons for no annexation are:
· Hydrologist Wendy Pabich has professionally documented that the developer's water rights and the Quigley surface water supply are insufficient to support a huge development of 379 homes and an 18-hole golf course.
· The upper third of the land in the canyon is crucial wildlife habitat and the city does not have the authority to authorize annexation there because it is outside of their legally binding 1994 area-of-city-impact agreement with Blaine County.
· Traffic in east Hailey residential neighborhoods is already horrific and doubling or tripling traffic volumes with a mega-development would approach a "taking" of quality of life and declining property values for current residents.
· The shaky economic situation in the Wood River Valley is simply not conducive to a risky speculative real estate development. The projected economic "benefits" would more likely result in serious financial liabilities for taxpayers. Imagine the vastly increased city costs for essential services in a 2.5 mile narrow canyon corridor.
Annexation does not pass economic or environmental tests and is beyond the bounds of prudence and sound judgment. Distasteful urban sprawl will not jump-start the economy. The city of Hailey has a huge challenge to manage existing problems on its plate, many of them due to developments that have not gone as promised. Why would an overburdened city take on a high-risk, expensive, new infrastructure problem? The City Council must redeem its clear responsibility to Hailey citizens to protect their quality of life and appropriately deny this ill-advised annexation.