Friday, November 7, 2014

Table Bellevue plan changes

     The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission should table work on a new Comprehensive Plan that could wrongly speed approval for annexation of 227 acres north of the city.

     The proposal includes commercial strip development that could destroy many family businesses in the Sun Valley area and hurt the area’s economy. Work should be delayed until three newly elected City Council members take office in January.

     In Tuesday’s election, three incumbents lost their council seats in a virtual referendum on the rush job the city put on the controversial annexation. P&Z commissioners should listen to the large majority of voters who used the ballot box to decry the hasty, secretive and ill-considered process.

     P&Z commissioners approved controversial zoning for the proposal in a grievous single meeting in late July. The city planner then pushed the commission to quickly change the Comprehensive Plan to open the door to the project with amendments released to the public only after the deadline for written comments.

     Public outcry led to the appointment of a citizens’ advisory committee that defied the planner and recommended that the Planning and Zoning Commission uphold provisions that discourage commercial strip development and encourage preservation of a visual corridor between Bellevue and Hailey. The committee’s recommendations are not binding.

     P&Z commissioners will meet Monday at 6 p.m. in the Bellevue Elementary School cafeteria to take public comments, discuss and perhaps act on changes to 15 chapters of amendments to the Comprehensive Plan. If the commissioners approve this plan rewrite, the annexation could come before the City Council before the councilmen-elect are seated. This would grossly disregard the will of the majority of Bellevue voters who just threw out some of those responsible for this unprecedented rush.

     Tabling the comp plan would restore sanity to the process, respect for voters and deliberative dignity to City Hall.

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