Friday, August 26, 2011

Quigley annexation back on table

Hailey council to consider 440-home development plan Monday


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer


An updated annexation request for Quigley Canyon limits development at the east end of the canyon and provides land for the Blaine County School District. Courtesy graphic.

If the Hailey City Council agrees to a 440-home development in Quigley Canyon, the city could in exchange limit development within areas deemed important for wildlife. It could also acquire valuable water rights there.

The city will hold a public hearing on Monday, Aug. 29, at 5:30 p.m. to review the latest version of an annexation request by developer Dave Hennessy. Hennessy's plan would bring 440 homes into Quigley Canyon, east of current city limits, three times the number of home sites allowed under existing county zoning requirements.

City staff has worked since August 2009 with the developer on a draft annexation agreement, primarily studying potential benefits from water rights associated with the development and how dedicating those water rights could meet the developer's proposed obligations to the city. Hennessy's original plans included an 18-hole golf course and Nordic center. The current plan would set aside open space that could be later developed by Hailey into a golf course.

Two years ago, the City Council struggled with the annexation request, primarily because Hennessy would not eliminate plans for building "estate lots" in areas above Quigley Pond and in Deadman Gulch, areas that were deemed environmentally sensitive by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. Quigley Canyon is home to big game and predator species.

Hennessy recently told the City Council that he would abandon his previous plans to build nine homes above Quigley Pond in the county if the city agreed to the newly configured annexation request for the rest of the 1,100-acre canyon.

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"We propose no development above the pond and would sell Deadman Gulch (a 200-acre parcel) as a single lot," Hennessy said in an interview.

He said that under county zoning, the new owner could build "four or five homes" in Deadman Gulch.

The latest version of Hennessy's plan would cluster most of the homes in the development at the mouth of the canyon. The developer has also offered to give land to the Blaine County School District for construction of an elementary school adjacent to Wood River High School.

The matter of greatest interest to the council on Monday will be the news of a valuable "senior" water right owned by Hennessy and his partners in Quigley Canyon. Hennessy has offered to give the water to the city as part of the annexation plan.

"Hennessy is suggesting that because the water right is so senior, and based on its value, that it should offset any annexation fees the city might seek," said Community Development Director Beth Robrahn. "That is the crux of the issue."

The water right has a priority date of April 15, 1880, making it one of the earliest water rights in Blaine County. It has a diversion rate of 2.36 cubic feet per second and is appurtenant to 276.5 acres.

Robrahn said a staff report of the Quigley request would be posted on the city's website today, Aug. 26.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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