Friday, July 23, 2010

New plan proposed for Quigley

Developer seeks 18 ‘estate lots’ in sensitive wildlife areas

Express Staff Writer

Courtesy graphic. Lots are proposed in Deadman Gulch, left, and east of Quigley Pond, center. The main outlet of Quigley Canyon is to the south of the proposed development.

Plans for developing home sites in upper Quigley Canyon are under review by the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Department. The plans call for development of lands that were deemed sensitive wildlife areas in a previous application seeking to annex more than 1,000 acres of Quigley Canyon into the city of Hailey.

Developer David Hennessy may face restrictions under county zoning standards that he would not have faced under Hailey's standards, had the land been annexed into the city.

Hailey officials and residents agonized for nearly two years over an annexation request from Hennessy's development group that would have brought a 1,100-acre, 380-home development into Quigley Canyon, east of the city. Government officials and the public were concerned that portions of the development in the upper reaches of the canyon would have serious impacts on wildlife.

While Hennessy's plans have stalled in the Hailey Planning and Zoning Department, apparently over water rights issues, the developer is moving forward with plans at the county level to build 18 homes on "estate lots" in the environmentally sensitive areas in Deadman Gulch and above Quigley Pond.

Hennessy's original plan would bring an 18-hole public golf course, additional public trails and a Nordic skiing facility into the city. Last July, Hennessy said he would be unable to finance these amenities in the development if he were unable to build about 40 "estate lots" above Quigley Pond and in Deadman Gulch.

Hennessy's goal of building in these areas drew criticism from the Idaho Fish and Game Department, the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission and citizens. The primary concern was about the impacts residential development would have on the environment, particularly wild animals that inhabit the area.

In the face of opposition to building in upper Quigley Canyon, Hennessy reduced the number of proposed homes to 14 and shrank lot sizes. He later removed development in these areas completely from his annexation request and has been in negotiations with City Attorney Ned Williamson since last summer to write a development agreement that might satisfy the concerns of the Hailey City Council.

Environmentalists cheered the removal of development plans from the upper canyon. However, city officials expressed regret over the potential loss of control over development in the area.

Hennessy's current plan, named Upper Quigley Canyon Subdivision, calls for the relocation of Quigley Canyon Road to the west of Quigley Pond. The road would then cross Quigley Creek twice before reconnecting further up the canyon to the west at a large beaver pond. Development plans show the road reconnecting Quigley Canyon Road west of the pond, "possibly as part of the annexation plan with the city of Hailey," the document states.

The proposed 18 lots in upper Quigley Canyon contain a total of 406 acres of land. Building envelopes would cover about 9 acres of land, or 2.2 percent of the total area of the lots.

County Planning and Zoning Director Tom Bergin said the developer would have to request annexation into the Wood River Rural Fire District in order to move forward with the development. He also said wildlife impacts, including the potential impacts to riparian areas and wetlands, would be considered when the county holds meetings to review the proposed development.

No date has been set for the meetings.

Bergin said the county's Mountain Overlay District, which restricts building on hillsides, would likely prohibit building in Deadman Gulch. The method for removing properties from the Mountain Overlay District is currently under review by county leaders—possibly opening up the potential for development of areas previously off limits.

"The applicant has been advised to re-evaluate their proposal with extent to development in Deadman Gulch," Bergin said.

Tony Evans:

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