Friday, September 12, 2014

Slow it down, Bellevue


    Hailey Mayor Fritz Haemmerle did what the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission should have done before it rubberstamped the zoning requested for 227 acres of land on the northeast boundary of the city limits last month.
    Haemmerle’s public meeting on Wednesday informed both Hailey and Bellevue residents about the details of the zoning and its potential impacts on them and their cities, collected unanswered questions about the big project and compiled public opinion on options.
    The meeting was a stark contrast to the astonishing dearth of questioning that accompanied the Bellevue P&Z’s lightning approval of zoning for an annexation that could give developers a blank check for strip-malling nearly a mile of property that fronts 90 acres between Bellevue and Hailey, opening the door to the destruction of small businesses up and down the Wood River Valley by big box chains, and locating more homes near a noisy airport.
    Interestingly enough, of the 60 or so people who participated in electronic polling at the Hailey meeting, 42 percent listed themselves as residing in Bellevue. On the key question of favoring or opposing the proposed zoning, 66 percent were opposed.
    Polling found support of more than 80 percent for protecting the hillsides from development, protecting the valley’s visual corridor, protecting the Wood River Trail from curb cuts and creating new parks.
    The P&Z’s rubberstamp ill-served the community. It deprived its neighbors up and down the Wood River Valley of opportunities for thoughtful consideration and comment
    People often complain about the glacial speed of government, but this decision was precipitously fast. It was a performance that the mayor and council members should avoid repeating. Wednesday’s meeting was a model they should embrace.




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