Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Life Church project still on hold

County extends 14-year process

Express Staff Writer

The Life Church's long-planned proposal to expand into a larger building just north of the Hailey city limits was delayed yet again when Blaine County Planning and Zoning commissioners said they needed more time and more information before approving the church's permit.

The church is required to obtain a conditional-use permit to build in a residential zone.

The application states plans for an 8,500-square-foot structure, which would include a sanctuary, classrooms, nursery, office space and a kitchen. The exterior would be stucco and stone, which the church's application states will "blend with the natural surroundings of the property."

Tom Bergin, Blaine County director of Land Use and Building Services, said the commission requested a weed control plan and more information on subdividing the property.

"It was really just a matter of running out of time," Bergin said.

Much of the concern centered not on the building itself, but on the remaining 4.47 acres of land. The application does not anticipate a change in zoning or plans for subdivision, but neighbors said they worried about future uses.

"What does the church have planned for the other five acres?" asked county resident Matthew Wells in a written public comment.

Hailey resident Christine Cole said she was also concerned about potential rezoning and subdivision, which could increase the density of development in this partly wooded area.

The church's attempts to expand have met with resistance since an anonymous donor gave the property to it in 1998. The 10.68-acre parcel just north of Albertson's grocery store is technically in the county, but the church was denied a 2003 request to build a septic system in the county.

An application for annexation of the site into the city of Hailey and extending the nearby city septic services was denied in 2008. But in a letter dated April 11, 2011, South Central District Health stated that the current septic system plans are up to its standard and could be built in the county.

The hearing has been continued until the commission's next meting, on Thursday, July 14, at 6:30 p.m. at the old County Courthouse in Hailey. The P&Z's decision on the issue does not require approval by the county commissioners.

Katherine Wutz:

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