Friday, July 17, 2009

Quigley developer changes the game

Hennessy withdraws plans for annexation above Deadman

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council took a big step closer to annexing about 1,000 acres in Quigley Canyon on Monday night. David Hennessy has plans to build an 18-hole golf course and 380 homes in the canyon.

Developer David Hennessy removed a major stumbling block from his goal of annexing land for a 380-home development into Hailey by eliminating areas above Quigley Pond and in Deadman Gulch from his request.

Mayor Rick Davis and the City Council appeared taken aback Monday night by Hennessy's decision, which removed the most controversial matter facing the council during its final deliberations over the annexation request.

"With this off the table we should be moving much closer to a final decision after next week," Davis said in an interview.

Councilwoman Carol Brown said she was "a little disappointed" by Hennessy's decision because it took control of development in these areas out of the hands of Hailey officials.

"I had become used to thinking of the entire project holistically," she said.

However, Citizens for Smart Growth Executive Director Vanessa Fry said she "couldn't be happier" with the decision.

"Thanks to the city and thanks to developer for listening to us about these areas," Fry said.

Hennessy said after the council meeting that he would pursue development in these areas under county zoning restrictions. A Hailey Planning Department staff report states that nine homes would likely be allowed in these areas under county zoning.

Hennessy said last year that he would be unable to finance an 18-hole golf course, year-round clubhouse and extensive trail system in the development if he were unable to build about 40 "estate lots" above Quigley Pond and in Deadman Gulch. After the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission, and environmentalists opposed his plan for the upper canyon, Hennessy reduced the number of homes to 14 and shrank lot sizes two months ago.

Yet Blaine County officials voiced opposition to Hennessy's plans to build in these areas because it was outside of a mutually agreed-upon area of city impact established in 1994 between the city and county. The agreement stipulates that the county be part of any discussion of annexation outside the area of city impact.

Hennessy agreed Monday night to pull back the scope of his annexation plans to behind the 1994 area-of-city impact line, which ends at the mouth of Deadman Gulch and at the southeast side of Quigley Pond.

He said after the meeting that he still plans to build an 18-hole golf course, which he plans to give to the city.

"That's the plan," he said.

The council moved ahead Monday night with other conditions of the annexation request, including the developer's payment for traffic impact mitigation measures, sidewalk construction, and bus stops within the development and in adjacent neighborhoods.

The council also worked out details for the location and size of a new municipal well to be built in the canyon by the developer and given to the city.

Though the exact quantity of water available from Quigley Canyon cannot be established until the Snake River Basin Adjudication is settled, perhaps in one year, the council agreed there was enough water to begin the development based on current estimates and recommendations made by the Idaho Department of Water Resources.

Phase one of the development, if it is approved, includes construction of the golf course, which will be irrigated with reclaimed water from the development that will be returned to Quigley Canyon from the city's sewer plant.

"At the end of the day, if there are not enough water rights allowed by the Department of Water Resources for the entire development, those upper canyon lots will not be irrigated," Councilman Fritz Haemmerle said.

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