Friday, November 7, 2014

Bellevue comp plan hearing set for Monday

Citizens committee recommendations go to P&Z

Express Staff Writer

     The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, at Bellevue Elementary School to review changes to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

     A citizens committee formed recently to review changes to the plan has recommended several controversial recommendations made by Planning Director Craig Eckles in September.

     Eckles mounted a revision of the Comprehensive Plan after the Eccles family of Utah requested annexation of 227 acres north of the city on the east side of state Highway 75, including 91 acres of proposed Business zoning along a one mile stretch of the highway.

     Eckles’ recommendations included increased commercial strip development, removal of a required visual corridor between Hailey and Bellevue, removal of the area-of-city impact growth map boundary and a prohibition on working with neighboring cities on such annexations.

     The P&Z Commission voted to recommend the annexation to the City Council during a meeting on Sept. 22, based on a conceptual zoning map drawn up by the Eccles group. The speed with which the city moved forward on the annexation led to objections from some segments of the community.              

     Only P&Z Commissioner Chase Gouley voted against recommending the annexation. He also requested that Mayor Chris Koch form the citizens committee to review Eckles’ Comprehensive Plan recommendations, after a group of about 25 Bellevue residents packed City Hall calling for a slowdown in the annexation review process. Koch limited the committee’s discussion to Eckle’s specific recommendations and did not allow public comment.

     “The whole reason for this Monday’s meeting is based on the public comment we received at the P&Z Commission meeting,” said Gouley. “Now that the citizens committee has had a chance to look at the comp plan, we want the public to make comments on it. The most important thing is public input. We are at a bigger venue this time, so let’s see what happens.”


     After three meetings in two weeks, the citizens committee formed a consensus challenging Eckles on several key issues. It voted to continue to discourage commercial “strip development” in Bellevue, to maintain a visual corridor between Bellevue and Hailey and work cooperatively with other governmental entities to provide services to the public.

     Many other changes to the plan involve so-called minor “housekeeping” changes based on new census data, growth estimates and ordinance updates.

     The P&Z Commission is authorized to overturn or accept any or all of the citizens committee’s recommendations on the Comprehensive Plan. The plan will ultimately go to the City Council for approval.

     “At the end of the day, we are only a recommending body to the City Council,” Gouley said.

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