For the week of September 30 thru October 6, 1998  

Golden Eagle developers lay out plan for 28 homes


By ALYSON WILSON
Express Staff Writer

s30eag.gif (6438 bytes)Alfalfa fields west of State Highway 75 and north of Greenhorn Gulch Road are slated for development as Golden Eagle Ranch II. (Express photos by Willy Cook)

A proposal to create one of the last major links in the chain of residential subdivisions connecting Ketchum to Hailey received its first hearing before the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission Thursday.

Developer Harry Rinker proposes to build his 28-lot Golden Eagle Ranch II subdivision on 56.8 acres north of Greenhorn Gulch Road along State Highway 75. Golden Eagle Ranch I is already under construction on the south side of the road.

The Golden Eagle II subdivision is designed around seven ponds over a total of 184 acres. All lots are lake-front properties planned for "large ranch-type of estates" and their acreage includes those water-covered areas.

Project planning coordinator Jed Gray told the P&Z that rather than simply creating a new grid of homes, Rinker intends to make the mid-valley more of a destination.

The project includes a county recreation center on one lot, a public bike path, and a donation of water rights to an Ohio Gulch area active park to irrigate soccer fields, a baseball diamond and a wintertime outdoor hockey rink.

That proposal had been presented to the Blaine County Recreation District on previous occasions. The district has stated that it is considering the offer.

Brian Yeager of Galena Engineering presented a new road configuration for the development that he said would create a safer access for residents of East Fork and the subdivisions at the mouth of Greenhorn Gulch.

The subdivision’s plans envision moving the main access to Greenhorn north, directly across from East Fork Road. A traffic signal is proposed at the new intersection as part the highway expansion to five lanes proposed by the Idaho Transportation Department, Yeager said.

"There are a lot of advantages to coming through here," he said of the roadway. "It’s an opportunity to collect some of this north-south traffic into one traffic light."

Blaine County planners questioned whether there would be enough vehicles using the intersection to warrant a signal light in the transportation department’s view.

"Whether it makes a ‘warrant’ or not, there is a safety need for it," Yeager said.

The president of the Greenhorn Homeowners Association told the P&Z she was "highly supportive of a traffic light being put in ASAP," as did a Hailey resident.

At the time Golden Eagle I was approved, Rinker promised a $250,000 donation to the transportation department for Highway 75 improvements. Gray said he hopes that donation will give the local community’s request for a signal some pull.

The transportation department has plans to level out the highway at the intersection by lowering it 10 feet for safety reasons. Due to that alteration and the other structural changes, the new Greenhorn access would not open until sometime after fall of 1999, when the roughly 18-month highway project is scheduled to begin.

The existing Greenhorn Road would be re-named Golden Eagle Road and remain without traffic lights.

Some Greenhorn residents expressed concern a about possible increase in use of their private road, which leads to public land up the gulch beyond the residences.

To combat this concern, Gray said developers and the rec district are examining the possibility of extending the bike path, a logical yet costly solution to separate car and non-motorized traffic. He said grants may be available for that purpose.

David Kipping, representing the Blaine County Housing Authority, encouraged the developer to make a gesture to the community’s working population by providing some employee housing.

"This is a very high-maintenance subdivision," ipping said. "There will be a lot of grass to be mowed. It’s an ideal opportunity to provide some employee housing units."

Gray said he thought something might be worked out on the maintenance area lot and said families will always have the option of housing their own "domestics."

Golden Eagle I already houses an onsite manager, he said.

The ponds are interconnected and will be controlled by a "computerized, automated system" hydrology expert Dr. Chuck Brockway told the P&Z. They are not, however, a closed system, so run-off from the back-country will be released into the Big Wood River by a pipeline in the event of a large flood.

A central water system will provide drinking water for the lots.

A weather station will eventually be installed to provide information for the irrigation system, which will also be centralized.

No new wells would be drilled and the subdivision would use existing water rights already held by the developer, Brockway said.

"There will be no injury to existing ground water uses of surface water users," Brockway testified, adding there will be no expansion of consumptive use of water, in compliance with Idaho Department of Water Resources requirements.

Brockway based this statement partly on the fact that about 104 acres of Rinker’s land is currently irrigated to grow alfalfa.

Sewage will be handled with individual sub-surface disposal systems.

The P&Z did not begin its review of the subdivision under county standards Thursday. It will begin making findings of fact at the next regular meeting, Thursday, Oct. 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the old Blaine County courthouse in Hailey.

 

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