Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Quigley annexation back on the table

Alternative hiking trail opened around developerís closure

Express Staff Writer

A plan to annex Quigley Canyon Ranch, foreground, into the city of Hailey was revived Monday. Photo by David N. Seelig

The Hailey City Council on Monday voted to keep the door open to further negotiations with developer David Hennessy over a proposed annexation agreement and development in Quigley Canyon.

Hennessy's request that the city annex the property for a 440-home development was unanimously denied by the council three weeks ago after nearly four years of careful consideration, analysis and public input.

Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said at the meeting Monday that he received a call from Hennessy at 3 p.m. that day indicating that the developer was still open to negotiating housing density, project phasing and other features of the proposed development.

Haemmerle said Hennessy told him that if the council signed off on the findings of fact Monday—a formality that would officially terminate the application—he would proceed with a development under Blaine County zoning (at one-quarter the density allowances) and end his participation with the city for good.

"Frankly, I don't know if this is a negotiating tactic, a bluff or real," said Haemmerle, who then opened the matter for discussion and an impromptu negotiation with Hennessy's attorney, Evan Robertson, who was in attendance.

Haemmerle said to Robertson that Hennessy should reduce housing density by 200 homes and restrict development above Quigley Pond and in nearby Deadman Gulch if he hopes to succeed.

"He'd better bring his absolute best offer," Haemmerle said.

Hailey resident Peter Lobb, a stalwart attendee of Hailey City Council meetings, said he was "appalled" that the council would consider such last-minute tactics.


"I've never heard such baloney in my life," Lobb said. "This is a backdoor way to get this through."

But Hailey Chamber of Commerce Membership Director Ramona Duke said she thinks the council should remain open to Hennessy's ideas.

Councilwomen Carol Brown and Martha Burke voted in favor of not signing the findings of fact and scheduling a public hearing to find out if the community would support further negotiations.

"I don't want to make this decision in a vacuum," Brown said.

Councilman Don Keirn voted no to the extension, saying the council should require the developer to come forward with a new proposal.

"It would have to go back to the Planning and Zoning Commission anyway," Keirn said.

With Councilman Pat Cooley being absent, the council voted 2-1 to hold off on signing the findings of fact.

A public hearing was scheduled for July 16 at a time and place to be announced.

In other Hailey news:

( Former Mayor Rick Davis was appointed to serve as Hailey's representative on the Blaine County Housing Authority board of directors.

( Jim Bradley of Bradley Construction and Paul Conrad of Conrad Brothers Construction were awarded with Construction Recycling Certificates of excellence.

Tony Evans:

Alternative trail opened

Quigley Road residents Jim and Evelyn Phillips drew a round of applause from a crowded Hailey City Hall on Monday after they announced the opening of a hiking trail from Quigley Road across their property to connect with BLM trails along the south ridge of Quigley Canyon. A trail that had been in use for generations was closed by developer David Hennessy, following the City Council's denial of his annexation request that would have brought 440 homes into the canyon. "There was no reason for Hennessy to do that except out of anger," Phillips said. "If his comments are true about serving the community, he will open them up again."

The Phillipses' trail cuts through brush about 100 feet west of the former trailhead and connects with about three miles of ridgeline trails, one of which connects with Old Cutters Park to the north.

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