Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Will Bellevue get $500,000 payment?

Strahorn annexation fee scheduled to be paid by Jan. 30

Express Staff Writer

    The city of Bellevue is potentially due $500,000 from Strahorn subdivision developer Jeff Pfaeffle by Jan 30. But whether the money will be paid and what it would be used for are still uncertain.
    Mayor Chris Koch said last week that such a boon to the city could go toward lowering a sewer-bond payment, thereby reducing ratepayer fees. He said the money could also be used to repair city streets.
    About 100 acres in Slaughterhouse Canyon was annexed into the city five years ago for the Strahorn subdivision. The development is expected to eventually bring 150 homes into the city.
    A study by Kaplan Associates conducted six years ago outlined the city services that would be impacted by the development, and where the annexation fees should be spent to keep existing residents from paying for the impact of 150 new homes.
    The annexation fees were expected to go to the Water & Sewer Department or to the general fund.  
    Pfaeffle agreed in 2009 to give the city $5,146,300 in cash, property and city infrastructure improvements, mainly in exchange for hooking up to city services and being able to develop under city zoning codes.
    Pfaeffle agreed to give the city $500,000 by Jan. 30, 2014, or when he began Phase 1 of the development, whichever came first.
    He agreed to then pay the city $250,000 every five years, or at whatever time he begins each of the consecutive three phases.

They don’t forget about my sewer bill.”
Pedro Torres

    “If the market does not warrant development, the city of Bellevue will still receive benefits under this agreement,” Pfaeffle said.
    When questioned by the Idaho Mountain Express last week about the scheduled payment, Bellevue Planning Director Craig Eckles said none was expected for several years, and that the planned first payment had “gone out the window” after the real estate market crashed.
    But, after reviewing the annexation agreement, Eckles said the city is due the payment, but that it may not be prepared to receive it because “criteria” associated with the beginning of Phase 1 were not complete.
    Pfaeffle could not be reached for comment.
    Pedro Torres, a longtime Bellevue resident and business owner, said he was shocked that the city might have forgotten about a payment of $500,000.
    “They don’t forget about my sewer bill,” Torres said.
    The City Council voted in 2010 to not include the scheduled $500,000 payment into the factoring of sewer rates into the foreseeable future.
    At that time, Councilman Shaun Mahoney called the expectation that the money would be paid to the city “wishful.”
Tony Evans: tevans@mtexpress.com

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