Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Hailey takes stand against box stores

Airport development plan criticized

Express Staff Writer

When and if the airport in Hailey is relocated to the south, there will be 210 acres in Hailey ripe for development. The Hailey City Council is open to fresh ideas for building on the property, as long as those ideas do not include stores like Target and Home Depot.

"Box stores of any kind will kill the downtown," said Jane Drussell, the owner of Jane's Artifacts on Main Street in Hailey, during a City Council meeting Monday. "All the little towns that put them in have had their downtowns destroyed. If people want them, they should move to the city."

The Hailey City Council was reviewing a master plan for the redevelopment of the Friedman Memorial Airport site, but did not agree to sign a resolution supporting it until provisions allowing for large-format retail, or big box stores, were removed.

The council also left the door open to receiving new ideas for the property.

"A creative citizen could come in with a plan for the site and we would consider it," Councilman Fritz Haemmerle said.

"No question about it," added Councilman Don Keirn.

Community Development Director Beth Robrahn presented the master plan, which could establish long-term goals for the site, including a multi-use area that includes a 200-room hotel and conference center, a retail-residential "village" and a sprinkling of "research and development" centers.

The southernmost parcel in the site plan called for up to four large-format retail stores such as Home Depot and Target, totaling 160,000 square feet of commercial floor space.

Consultant Rick Hill with Village Solutions, a real estate development marketing firm in Anchorage, Ky., told the Idaho Mountain Express earlier this month that he was in talks with large-format retailers to see if they would be interested in building on the airport site. He declined to specify which businesses he was in contact with.

Councilwoman Martha Burke said consultants working on the master plan gave "misleading" information with regard to the effect of big box stores on local businesses. She said the consultants said Hailey only has "specialty stores" at present and could therefore benefit from the availability of larger stores.

"L.L. Green's is not a specialty store, it is a hardware store. Jane's is not a specialty store, it is an office supply store," Burke said.

Burke said three times more money is kept in a local community if it does not have big box stores, because box store profits are taken out of the community.

"The money goes to their corporate offices," she said.

The resolution will be reconsidered on July 11.

In other Hailey news:

( The council approved a final design plan for the redevelopment of Woodside Boulevard, including bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road. Construction will begin next summer.

( Ken Sangha was granted a rezone of his lot at 960 S. Main St., across from the rodeo grounds, from Limited Industrial to Limited Business zoning, but was restricted from developing a residential unit on the property due to safety concerns stemming from proximity to the airport. The city staff report states that Sangha plans to develop a business geared toward tourism and the hosting of special events on the property.

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