For the week of July 1 thru July 7, 1998  

East Fork locals oppose housing project

Housing authority pushes for new regs

Express Staff Writer

East Fork residents are up in arms over a plan to put affordable housing at the mouth of their canyon.

And about 30 properties are represented in a new citizen’s group assembled to fight the project east of State Highway 75 and south of Ketchum, East Fork resident Bill Mason said.

"We’ve got a whole bunch of complaints," Mason said. "There’s a mile-long [list] of stuff."

Mason said residents resent hearing through local newspapers of a plan to put high-density housing on their doorstep, rather than directly from the Blaine County Housing Authority.

"They made no attempt to contact the property owners," Mason said. "It’s not that we’re against affordable housing by any shake of the imagination; it should be done in an area where it’s appropriate for high density."

Mason also questioned potential problems with increased traffic entering and exiting State Highway 75 at East Fork Road.

"The traffic situation is pretty horrific out there, and it keeps growing and growing," he said.

Mason said the neighbors have been and will continue to meet to "see what these people are doing."

"These people," meaning the housing authority and the Boise nonprofit Neighborhood Housing Services, have filed no application yet with the Blaine County Planning office.

"There isn’t even an application being put together yet," housing authority director Karl Fulmer explained.

Fulmer could only say he foresees between 25 and 50 homes priced under $150,000 on the 7.5-acre lot.

"I’m gonna be honest with people," Fulmer said. "We’re glad to see a group has organized so we can work better with the neighbors."

Fulmer said engineers and hydrologists are working at the site to gather information about its development potential.

"It’s so early in the game. We’re not even certain we can do something there," Fulmer added.

In fact, working to see if an affordable housing project can happen at the site is only one of a few stalls the authority might soon hit.

A Community Housing Planned Unit Development law is in nothing more than draft-form at the moment.

The law would outline ways to set ownership requirements and price restrictions for affordable housing units.

Fulmer explained whatever rules come out in the ordinance will direct how the East Fork project will look in terms of the number, cost and density of homes.

It is the vehicle developers would use to drive forward with their "affordable" planned unit developments, and the housing authority needs this chapter to make progress with an East Fork project.

It will go to hearing July 15, as a chapter that will slide into the Blaine County Subdivision Ordinance.

Fulmer said last month, the rules are "really kind of a nebulous thing as far as a timeline."

The housing authority doesn’t own the land yet, though it holds an option to buy from the owner that expires this fall.

The problem is the authority needs to be able to prove it can make a project work at that site before it can obtain financing necessary for purchase.

Closing the circle, the authority needs the county community housing law passed to obtain that proof.

The authority will hold neighborhood meetings early next fall before any hearings for the project by the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission are held, said Fulmer.


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