Friday, September 5, 2014

Airport board OKs annexation letter

Panel opposes increased density under flight path

Express Staff Writer

    The Friedman Memorial Airport Authority board on Tuesday approved a letter to the city of Bellevue expressing concern about increased density that would result from the city’s proposed annexation of a portion of the Flying Hat Ranch.
    The Eccles family has requested annexation of 227 acres, all of the property between Bellevue and Hailey along the east side of state Highway 75. On July 28, the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend approval of the application by the City Council. The city has said that up to a year may be required to decide the matter.
    The Airport Authority’s letter states that while the authority is neutral in respect to the annexation itself, it does have concerns about zoning.
    “[T]he Airport discourages the increase in density under the flight path,” a draft version of the letter states. “While the Airport does not oppose light-industrial uses on the annexed property, we do have concerns with business and industrial zoning that may result in future conflicts with the air traffic and other impacts associated with Airport operations.”
    The letter asks that the city keep those matters in mind when it considers zoning of the property if it is annexed.
    The board approved the draft letter with the exception that statements regarding the opinions of the “Airport” be changed to that of the “Airport Authority.”
    An earlier agreement between the airport and the Eccles family for their land to be the site of light poles south of the runway states that the board would not oppose a rezone of property on the east side of the highway adjacent to the Woodside Industrial Park to industrial or light-industrial use.
    “From a standpoint of human decency, we shouldn’t promote increased density in areas that planes are flying over, but this [letter] keeps us in compliance with the contract,” board member and Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle said.
Even so, Haemmerle called the letter an expression of the board’s position “in the most vanilla, bland way possible.”
The board declined a suggestion by member and County Commissioner Larry Schoen that the letter include a proposal that a subdivision plat for the Eccles property include a statement warning buyers of potential conflicts with the airport.
    “We have learned that we don’t know when the airport’s going to move,” Schoen said. “Buyers should be made aware that these impacts exist.”

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