Friday, May 7, 2010

Changes to hillside rules will wait

County officials considering possible revisions to protected areas

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County commissioners will resume their ongoing discussion of proposed changes to the county's Mountain Overlay District at a meeting early next week.

Earlier this week, commissioners discussed the possible changes for more than an hour without reaching a consensus. At issue is a proposal brought forth by county officials to remove from the Mountain Overlay District a section of land behind St. Luke's Wood River Medical Center.

The land, described by officials as a flat bench, runs west to the mouth of Cold Springs. The bench is under the control of several different landowners, including Sun Valley Co.

Two of the commissioners—Larry Schoen and Tom Bowman—have either expressed doubts about whether the land actually belongs in the hillside protected area or stated that they believe it's an appropriate area for development.

For now, the land is undevelopable because of its inclusion in the district. The county's hillside protections prohibit development on land that exceeds 25 percent slope angle.

The commissioners said concerns brought forth by some members of the public that the bench is inappropriate for development because of wildlife and avalanche concerns is a matter better left for the development application process. For now, the county has not received a development application for the bench area.

The issue was one of two discussed during Tuesday's all-day County Commission meeting. The other discussion was about creating a simpler process for landowners to appeal the inclusion of their property in the Mountain Overlay District.

County planners currently rely on a computer-generated map that shows the district's boundaries. Commissioners discussed ways of tweaking the rules that guide the computer-generated mapping process in a way that may produce a more accurate mapped line for the district.

Bowman said the commissioners have not yet made a decision.

The commissioners' next discussion of the proposed revisions to the bench area behind the hospital is set for Tuesday, May 11, at 1:30 p.m. The public meeting will be held in the upstairs meeting room at the old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey.


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