Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Hailey comp plan update put on hold

Council calls for population density projections and historic preservation


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council decided Monday to postpone completion of long-term planning goals until a master plan is competed for the Friedman Memorial Airport site.

The decision was made during a workshop held to review a proposed new comprehensive plan.

A master plan for the 210-acre Friedman Memorial Airport property, including zoning designations, is scheduled for completion by February. The plan will include a market analysis of the city's overall economy to help direct zoning decisions and plan for commercial development on the airport site.

Federal Aviation Administration officials have said the airport relocation will be completed in 2016.

Councilman Don Keirn said at the Monday meeting that development of the airport site is the "elephant in the living room" when it comes to planning issues facing the city as it reviews the proposed new comprehensive plan.

Planning Director Beth Robrahn has expressed concern that commercial developments on the airport site could draw economic vitality from Main Street, in violation of stated goals in both the old and proposed new comprehensive plans.

Councilman Fritz Haemmerle said the new plan's requirement that Hailey's downtown core be preserved as the "primary commercial center" in the city may not be consistent with "what may have to happen at the airport site."

He said the airport site may have to be developed to the "maximum economic expectations of the property," but declined to provide examples of what types of development would fit that description.

"It will probably not be a park, but it probably won't be a factory either," Haemmerle said.

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The council instructed Robrahn to provide total projected population estimates for the city, if and when build-out takes place under current zoning allowances, before moving forward with further discussion of the comprehensive plan in December.

"How big can we get in our current boundaries?" Haemmerle asked. "This is a good topic for public discussion."

"Do we want to accommodate growth?" asked Mayor Rick Davis.

"That is the ultimate question," Haemmerle responded.

The council voted unanimously to include language in the new comprehensive plan that will establish a goal of preserving Hailey's historic places and streets.

Haemmerle began the initiative to include historic preservation in the new comprehensive plan, saying that Ketchum failed to do so and lost its historic neighborhoods to "business creep" or commercial development.

"The use of waivers [to allow exemptions from zoning ordinances] for developers in Ketchum was a detriment to that city," he said.

Robrahn said current building densities in the General and Limited Residential zones in the city are two units per acre. She said growth could be accommodated with a mix of in-fill development in the city limits and expansion though annexations.

The proposed new comprehensive plan contains monitoring criteria to measure long-term development changes in the city limits, including measurement of carbon emissions, water use and housing unit densities.

"This is a key component," Councilman Don Keirn said. "Heretofore, we have not been aware of trends."

The council will hold a public hearing to discuss the new comprehensive plan on Monday, Dec. 13, at City Hall.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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