Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hailey passes annexation ordinance

Developers required to pay fees up front


By TONY EVANS
Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council on Monday unanimously passed an ordinance that will place more financial obligations on developers requesting annexation into the city.

The ordinance, which applies to any annexation larger than 10 lots, will require up-front annexation fee payments or bond guarantees for scheduled improvements, at the time of annexation. It will also require a mandatory fiscal analysis for any requested annexation.

The new law will also require developers to submit a subdivision application for approval before annexation takes place, and keep water rights appurtenant to the annexed land as a primary irrigation source.

The ordinance, written by City Attorney Ned Williamson, was based on a petition written and circulated last month by Hailey resident and real estate development consultant Gregory Travelstead.

Travelstead's petition was intended to bring annexation security issues before the public as a ballot initiative in the November election, but the City Council and Mayor Fritz Haemmerle seized on the issues, bringing them to a vote before the council during the past three weeks.

"This was good, sound direction," Haemmerle said. "In view of the way the city has been treated in the past few years, it moves [the city] in favor of us not being partners in developments."

Travelstead, general manager of water-rights broker 37 Water LLC in Hailey, was a minor partner with valley developers Robert Kantor and George Kirk. Together they had plans to build a self-contained town on the 2,800-acre Spring Creek Ranch in southern Blaine County in 2005.

"I began this [petition] because I've seen the fiscal problems the city has already from botched agreements with developers," he said, citing Old Cutters subdivision as an example.

Old Cutters developer John Campbell is suing the city in bankruptcy court over annexation fees imposed in 2006.

Attorney Jim Laski, who represents developers Grant Stevens and Jeff Pfaeffle in a proposed Colorado Gulch development southwest of downtown, said the new ordinance was "short-sighted," placing unnecessary restrictions on potential new construction business for the city during uncertain economic times.

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"Why tie the city's hands in this economy with respect to working with people?" he asked.

Laski said in an interview that the strategy his clients had for annexing property and developing about 21 acres along Broadford Road would likely not move forward under the current ownership.

"This presents a giant obstacle to the annexation of Colorado Gulch in the near future," he said.

Council members Carol Brown and Pat Cooley expressed support for the ordinance. Brown said a similar ordinance requiring developers to build or fund sidewalks in Hailey has been effective.

"It's the only reason we have sidewalks in some places in Hailey today," she said.

The city remains in the position of granting annexation to developers, or not, based on whatever criteria the City Council deems pertinent.

Williamson said the proposed annexation of Quigley Canyon for a 440-home development would not be affected by the new requirements because the proposed project was already "in the pipeline" before the ordinance was passed.

In other Hailey news:

- The city will host a Skate Park cleanup day Saturday, April 21, from 3-5 p.m. The public is invited to participate.

- The council passed an ordinance creating a franchise agreement with Clear Creek Disposal for rubbish collection and recycling. The agreement adds an extra curbside-recycling bin size.

Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com




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