Friday, July 11, 2014

Bellevue to Hailey: No special input on annexation plan

Hailey seeks to keep open space between cities

Express Staff Writer

    The city of Bellevue has refused to include the city of Hailey in a discussion of an annexation process that could lead to a common border between the two towns.
    The Eccles family’s Flying Hat Ranch has for many years provided a long buffer zone of pasture between the cities. The ranch stretches for about a mile on the east side of state Highway 75 and for about two miles on the west side.
    In June, C. Hope Eccles requested annexation from the city of Bellevue of 227 acres of irrigated farmland on the east side of the highway that comprises all of the property between north Bellevue and the Woodside subdivision in southern Hailey. The request provided no details about the proposed zoning, target housing densities or other proposed uses of the land.
    Typically, when land in the county is annexed into a city, permitted housing densities increase.
    Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle wrote a letter on July 1 to Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch requesting involvement in the annexation process.

Haemmerle’s letter points out that both cities have the stated goal of protecting an open-space corridor.

    “Since this potential annexation will impact the residents of Hailey and has far reaching land-use-planning implications, it is important the city of Hailey have a clear understanding with the city of Bellevue on any and all proposals regarding this annexation,” Haemmerle wrote.
    Hailey Community Development Director Micah Austin said Hailey’s primary goal is to maintain an open-space corridor between the two towns.
    “The development calamity we want to avoid is a Chinden Boulevard, which connects Garden City and Boise. You cannot see where one city ends and another begins,” Austin said.
    Haemmerle’s letter points out that both cities have the stated goal of protecting an open-space corridor.
    “The desire to maintain a buffer between our towns is now entrenched in the comprehensive plans for both cities,” Haemmerle wrote.
    Koch wrote a letter in response to Haemmerle’s concerns, saying that Bellevue will proceed with negotiations without special input from Hailey.
    “The city of Bellevue appreciates the request for the involvement of Hailey in the Eccles annexation,” wrote Koch, who said the city will strictly follow state laws in processing the application.
    “The process starts with the [Bellevue] Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on July 28 at 6 p.m., and will be followed by council action at a later time. We look forward to hearing and or receiving Hailey’s comments,” Koch wrote.
    Haemmerle pointed out in his letter that the two cities came together to address an  annexation request by Spencer Eccles in 1998 to bring 152 acres of the Flying Hat Ranch on the west side of Highway 75 into the city of Hailey.
    “A cooperative and mutually beneficial effort was made to bring impacted stakeholders together to determine whether the annexation request should be granted,” Haemmerle wrote.
    The ad-hoc committee included representatives from Bellevue, Hailey and the Friedman Memorial Airport, said Haemmerle.
    The 1998 Eccles annexation request expanded in 2000 to include all 696 acres of open space between the two cities. The city of Bellevue expressed concern at that time that the annexation would bring development too close to the edge of the city.
“During a six-month period, the committee held eight meetings and finalized a recommendation to the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission that was acceptable to both the city of Hailey and the city of Bellevue,” Haemmerle said.
    Based on Hailey records, Austin said, Eccles’ initial 1998 request was for Light Industrial zoning for the entire area. The committee, with representatives from both cities, did not recommend annexation at that time, said Austin.
    “The P&Z commissions from both cities recommended together in 1999 their goals to protect a visible corridor, increasing development away from the highway, and keeping the property in R-5 zoning for five years (allowing for one home per five acres) during which time the public would have had the right to purchase development rights for the open areas on both side of the highway.”
    In 2001, Eccles withdrew his application.    
    The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will get a first look at the proposed new Eccles annexation development plan on July 28 at Bellevue City Hall at 6 p.m.    
    In other Hailey news:
l    The Hailey P&Z Commission will hear on Monday a request by the Syringa Mountain School to keep livestock for educational purposes, and will conduct a design-review of a plan from Sun Valley Roasters LLC (Hailey Coffee Co.) for an addition, including a second-story residence.

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