Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Cutters annexation plan advances

Conditions address city impact concerns

Express Staff Writer

At a turtle pace the annexation application to Hailey by Old Cutters developers for annexation of a 99- to 123-unit housing complex northeast of Hailey city limits east of Buttercup Road has made it one step further through the cumbersome review process of Hailey government this week.

Developers John Campbell and Steve Brown got approval for annexation with a number of conditions set by the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission. The conditions addressed concerns about impacts to city infrastructure at a meeting at Hailey City Hall, Monday.

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission established a zoning determination for the development and evaluated the proposal?s conformance with the Hailey Comprehensive Plan.

If annexed, the development would have limited residential, general residential and recreational greenbelt zoning

The commission made recommendations on how the proposed development conforms to several sections of the Comprehensive Plan adding provisions the commission would like to see included before any further approval of the annexation is granted by the City Council.

A stumbling block for the commission was over how the proposal conforms to the growth management section of the comprehensive plan.

The commission could not find general compliance with the section because there is no clear policy on annexation in it.

The Cutters project has become a test case in the process of evaluating annexations for the city. An application for the Justus Ranch was denied and an application for Quigley Ranch is still pending.

Commissioner Trent Jones said it is confounding for him to be asked to decide if annexation applications are in compliance with the city?s comprehensive plan when the plan is incomplete and offers no guidelines.

?I want to punt this back to the City Council,? Jones said. ?I?m not saying what we?ve seen is unattractive ... maybe the mayor and other city council members can enlighten (us).?

The commission?absent Commissioner John Seiller, who bowed out of the discussion due to a conflict of inter-est?discussed the ability of the city to handle the annexation according to reports from city department heads.

Some conditions of the approval require the council to ensure that the city experience no negative fiscal impact if annexation is approved.

The commission wanted a guarantee that infrastructure costs associated with the development would be assumed by the developers, but reviewing fiscal impacts is the purview of the Hailey City Council.

During the line-by-line review of the project the application was found to be generally in compliance with most other sections of the comprehensive plan.

The sections include recreation and parks, housing and community housing, natural resources, hazardous areas, population, public facilities, utilities and services and transportation and circulation.

Concerns about water and density were some of the most prominent arguments for denying the application at Monday?s public hearing. Opponents regarded the development as an impact too heavy for the city to accommodate. Proponents said annexation is the best way for the city to influence the community?s inevitable growth.

?The only resource we have an infinite supply of is time, time to develop responsibly,? said annexation opponent Bill Hughes, who recommended that the commission deny the application.

In fact, Jones suggested that despite the cost born by the applicants to forward the plan he would support holding the annexation decision until better guidelines for annexations are set by the city.

Planning and Zoning is charged with evaluating design and physical aspects of projects, but the commission?s concern Monday was whether they could recommend the project for annexation if they could not be guaranteed that the costs of impact studies are going to be covered by the developers.

Pursuing the fiscal impacts of development is the purview of the city council, explained Commission Chairman Pat Cooley.

Campbell said he and Brown are negotiating with the city to find a way to pay for fiscal impact studies.

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