For the week of August 19 thru August 25, 1998  

Subdivision ordinance delayed

Express Staff Writer

Legal concerns inspired changes to the proposed Blaine County subdivision ordinance, bumping the next hearing to a week later than originally planned.

Friday, Blaine County Prosecuting Attorney Doug Werth said he was not confident the ordinance, which defines rules for developing residential projects, would hold up in court as it stood.

Werth’s suggestions were accepted by the Blaine County Commissioners, and the version of the ordinance scheduled for hearing has changed.

The hearing will take place Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the old county courthouse at First and Croy in Hailey.

The delay will not affect the county’s ability to pass an ordinance before the current moratorium on agricultural land subdivision applications expires in mid-September, planners agreed Friday.

The moratorium was enacted last year after a number of court challenges were decided against the county and development pressure mounted in agricultural areas.

Friday, sections of the ordinance guiding decisions on agricultural land use and development impact on public facilities and services were altered substantially.

Two criteria for subdivisions on land zoned for agriculture "could be interpreted as a de facto down-zone," Werth cautioned the commissioners, adding he "cannot say with any reasonable comfort that these two provisions would stand up when challenged [in court.]"

The criteria dealt with compatibility of uses surrounding proposed residences, implying ag operations would be threatened by proximate homes, and with changing "the character of agricultural land."

County planners will re-word these items using "tighter" language, following Werth’s suggestion.

A second "substantive" change which related to how new development alters the county’s ability to provide "adequate" school, police and fire protection, emergency medical services and roads to its residents, was accepted on Werth’s suggestion as well.

"We want to make sure development pays for itself," Commissioner Mary Ann Mix said.

Werth proposed that developers be required to specifically fund "capital improvements, ongoing maintenance and operations," rather than simply "services and facilities," as was originally the case.


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