Friday, November 18, 2011

Hailey calls for pow-wow with county

Council expects 1880 Quigley water right appraisal in January

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council is tired of wondering what would happen in Quigley Canyon if the city does not agree to developer Dave Hennessy's request to annex the canyon into the city limits for a proposed 440-home development.

"We've never had a meeting on what could occur in the county," Councilman and Mayor-elect Fritz Haemmerle said during a City Council meeting Monday.

The council is awaiting an appraisal of an 1880 water right that Hennessy said he would give the city as part of an annexation agreement.

Hennessy has also agreed to prohibit development of 18 homes in an environmentally sensitive area above Quigley Pond, if the annexation is approved.

The water-right appraisal, including its monetary value and an estimate of its transferability to the city, is expected to arrive in January.

The water right has become the primary bargaining tool for the developer, since the city became aware that it may have to shore up its water rights in the near future to provide for municipal irrigation.

The water right could be used to mitigate for consumption from the city's municipal wells, which get a lot of use during summer.

What is not known is whether the water right would be sufficient to offset $3.5 million in development impact fees associated with Hennessy's proposed development.

The council denied an opportunity presented by Community Development Director Beth Robrahn on Monday to discuss many other issues raised by the Planning and Zoning Commission recently when it voted 3-2 to recommend denial of the annexation request.

Those issues include wildlife impacts, changes to the street ordinance and the proposed use of septic tanks in Quigley Canyon.

"Until we have water information, there's not much to talk about," Councilwoman Martha Burke said.

But the council agreed to instruct city staff to contact county Planning Director Tom Bergin to find out what Hennessy would be able to build in Quigley Canyon under county zoning laws.

"It could be a huge range, but what is the range?" Burke asked.

Bergin could not be reached for comment, but has said in interviews that about 140 homes would be allowed under county zoning allowances, and that much of the development would be pushed down-canyon close to the Hailey city limits.

Tony Evans:

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