For the week of October 7 thru October 13, 1998  

Bellevue, Hailey want some space

Express Staff Writer

A land-use agreement between Hailey and Bellevue should be drawn up to govern development in the space between the two cities, planners from both entities agreed in an informal meeting last week.

Preservation of open space was stated as an important goal of such an agreement.

Members from each planning and zoning commission met Sept. 29 at the Hailey city meeting room to discuss the effects of each municipality’s area of impact on the other.

Under Idaho law, city subdivision ordinances allow a city some control over development within the city’s area of impact, which in the Wood River Valley consists of county land. Unless the city and county negotiate otherwise, the area of impact is a one-mile-wide band around the city. A city is allowed to annex only property that is within its area of impact.

Bellevue’s area of impact is the designated one mile wide. Hailey has a negotiated agreement with Blaine County.

The two cities are separated by less than one mile of county land, thus their areas of impact overlap. And that space may decrease as Bellevue contemplates the annexation of the Divine property on its northern border and Hailey examines the annexation of the Eccles property on its southern border.

"We’re both in the process of change, and I’m glad that we’re able to meet like this together," said Bellevue planning and zoning administrator Diane Shay.

Hailey city planner Carl Hjelm added that he viewed the meeting as "a free-form discussion without any critical decisions to be made."

Hjelm posed questions for discussion: What shape should each area of impact take? Should the areas overlap? What are the boundaries of each city? What is the vision for land use in the area between the cities?

While some commissioners favored overlapping zones of impact, most meeting participants agreed that such a configuration would present a challenge to developers who would have to negotiate with three entities: the two cities and the county.

"An overlapping zone keeps me honest," said Hailey P&Z commissioner Jonathon Stoke. "It doesn’t allow cities to push development to the limit of the boundaries."

Bellevue member Mike Choat said he thought the idea was too cumbersome both for a developer and for the commissioners who already face a full agenda each week.

"We’re not talking about tons of property here," he said. "We just need open communication as to what’s going to happen on the borders."

The commissioners discussed forming an intergovernmental entity to represent both towns and the county in matters pertaining to development in the areas of impact.

A member of the public and lawyer, Marc McGregor, told the commissioners that state law pertaining to areas of impact is "wide open" concerning the application of city standards or those drawn up by a new entity. Standards from each city could be applied, he said.

Another idea tossed around was a mutual agreement to maintain the existing land as open space as a south-county recreation amenity.

"Does the Hailey commission see open space between the cities?" Shay asked. "We’ve been talking about it; have you?"

Shay added that she considered a buffer zone an important "breather" between the two cities.

"I have civic pride in both communities, but I would like to see some space between them," said Stoke.

"I’d like to see it all open and green forever, but that may be unrealistic," added Hailey commissioner Becki Keefer.

In a straw vote, the commissioners unanimously agreed that a land-use agreement between the cities would be a useful approach to the issue. The commissioners also agreed to research the advisability of hiring a professional planner to analyze the land in question.


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