Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hailey mayor blasts Bellevue over Eccles annexation

Haemmerle cites potential impacts to valley economy

Express Staff Writer

Cattle graze last year on the portion of the Flying Hat Ranch that is proposed for annexation into the city of Bellevue. Photo by Roland Lane

   Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle harshly criticized the Bellevue mayor and City Council on Monday for not allowing the city of Hailey to participate in discussions of a proposed annexation that would bring 227 acres between the two cities into Bellevue’s city limits.
    The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public meeting on Monday, July 28, at 6 p.m. to consider the proposed annexation, which would include Business and Light Industrial zoning along about two miles on the east side of state Highway 75 between the two cities. As proposed, the annexation would also include two large sections of Residential zoning to the south and east.
    “If Bellevue continues to not work with Hailey and Blaine County, this will turn into an ugly annexation based on self-interest,” said Haemmerle. “If this continues, it is nothing more than a hostile act.”
    The Eccles family, the owner of the property, is asking the city of Bellevue to annex 227 acres of its Flying Hat Ranch. All of the property is currently irrigated pasture between Bellevue and Hailey along the east side of Highway 75.
    The 700-acre ranch north of Bellevue belongs to the family of Utah billionaire Spencer Eccles. In 2000, Eccles requested that the entire ranch, including land to the east and west of Highway 75, be annexed into Hailey.  The request was opposed by Bellevue officials at that time, who said it could bring light-industrial development to the edge of their city limits. A lengthy process of review by both cities ensued, before Eccles dropped the request.
    The Hailey City Council expressed frustration that the same team effort is not under way this time around. Councilwoman Carol Brown said she could not tell by preliminary drawings whether the proposed annexation would include residential zoning on a hillside at the east side of the property.
    Councilwoman Martha Burke said allowing commercial uses on the real estate between Hailey and Bellevue could impact commercial property to the north, including as far north as Ketchum.
    Burke said Hailey took into account Bellevue’s needs during the last period of Eccles’ annexation request and during a proposed airport expansion several years ago.
    “No good deed goes unpunished,” she said.
    Eccles’ attorney, Evan Robertson, was present at the Monday meeting, but did not speak.
    Hailey Community Development Director Micah Austin said he will attend the July 28 Bellevue P&Z meeting to emphasize Hailey’s concerns.

In other Hailey news:

  •  The Hailey City Council approved a rezone of five lots on the west side of the south end of Glenbrook Drive, from Business to General Residential zoning. The lots were “upzoned” from General Residential many years ago when Power Engineers buildings were planned for nearby.
  •  The Hailey City Council unanimously approved a Pedestrian and Cycling Master Plan for the Wood River Valley.
  • The Hailey City Council approved a fiscal year 2015 budget not to exceed $17,013,521.    

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