Friday, March 18, 2011

Sun Valley seeks to expand oversight

Area of city impact could include McHanville neighborhood

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley’s proposed expansion of its area of impact can be seen in the map above, delineated in green. The city already has oversight over parts of the McHanville area just south of Ketchum, shown by hash marks, but is seeking to expand its purview in the area, possibly with an eye toward annexation. Courtesy graphic

The city of Sun Valley's sphere of influence could increase substantially if the city is successful in petitioning the county for an increase in its area of impact.

The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission is considering an amendment to Sun Valley's area of impact that would expand the amount of land over which the city has a certain amount of oversight. County Planner Jeff Adams said that while county ordinances would still apply in this area, the city would have the right to weigh in on future subdivisions and other development.

Though an expansion of the area of impact is not an annexation, Adams said during a meeting last week that it's a step in that direction.

"This is trying to give the public fair warning that [the city] might in the future want to annex these properties," he said.

Idaho code requires area of city impact agreements to be renegotiated and adjusted every 10 years. The negotiation for Sun Valley is overdue, as the last adjustment was made in 1994.

The proposed increase is divided into seven areas, much of which is public land, to the north, east and south of the city. The expanded area also includes the McHanville area on the east side of Highway 75 just south of the city.

Sun Valley Community Development Director Mark Hofman said that part of the McHanville region is already in the city's area of impact, and it only makes sense to include the rest. Still, he said, it's open for negotiation.

"It's not anything the city intends to start reaching south and annexing," Hofman said. "I don't know if we would even annex it. There's a lot of questions."

Adams said that the McHanville area, if annexed, would need to be developed to a certain residential density to limit what he called "suburban sprawl."

Sun Valley Planner Diane Shay said in an interview that she could not comment on the exact acreage involved or the city's plans for the expanded area. The proposed expansion includes significant portions of public land, including a BLM-managed holding on Elkhorn Road.

"We have some conflicts where Elkhorn Road leaves the city, crosses into BLM land and then comes back into the city," Hofman said.

The city is also looking to expand its oversight into BLM land north of the city, behind the White Clouds subdivision and the newly relocated Sun Valley Gun Club.

Shay said during the meeting that even though the area is public land, putting it under the city's area of impact would give Sun Valley a certain degree of influence when dealing with agencies and their plans for the area. However, she said in a subsequent interview that she was unable to elaborate on how including the land in the city's area of impact would increase the city's influence.

Hofman said the city has no plans to develop on the federal land.

"The major goal of the ACI from the north, south and east is preservation," he said.

Calls to Hofman regarding how including the land in the city's area of impact would aid in preservation were not returned as of press time.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will revisit the issue during its regular meeting on Thursday, March 31, at 6:30 p.m. at the Old County Courthouse in Hailey.

Commission Chair Pat Murphy said the reason for continuing the meeting was to allow for public review of the plan.

"We haven't had much public input," he said.

Katherine Wutz:

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