For the week of June 30, 1999  thru July 6, 1999  

Hailey planners recommend light industrial for Eccles ag land

Bellevue officials voice disapproval

Express Staff Writer

The city of Hailey moved a step closer to loading an additional 150 acres into its fast growing and increasingly controversial inventory of Light Industrial (LI) zoned property.

The property, owned by Spencer Eccles and located on the east side of state Highway 75 south of the Woodside Light Industrial area, received a recommendation for LI zoning by the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday of last week.

LI zoning includes uses such as automobile sales, building contractors, light manufacturing, printing and publishing, research and development, and telecommunication broadcasting studios.

Hailey city planner Carl Hjelm said the parcel is large enough to accommodate users—such as one large software company—that the current LI areas in Hailey are too small to accommodate.

Hjelm said he has received calls in the past from large software companies interested in relocating to the Hailey area.

The city council, which will consider the Eccles annexation application later this summer, is also on the verge of annexing developer Ron Sharp’s proposed business and industrial park west of the Friedman Memorial Airport, which would add close to 75 acres of mostly Light Industrial property to the city.

That would bring the city of Hailey’s total number of acres devoted to LI—including the proposed Eccles annexation—to about 260.

Eccles is requesting that his agricultural land be annexed by the city of Hailey with the LI zoning. But Eccles’ attorney, Evan Robertson, said his client has no intention of doing anything with the property for at least the next five years.

"It is our opinion that the best solution for future infrastructure and the best political climate is the city of Hailey," Robertson said.

When asked why Eccles and the city of Hailey were intent on LI zoning, Hjelm said there were no other options.

"I’m not sure that the city of Hailey wants more Light Industrial," Hjelm said. "(But) we’re not in a position to zone it anything else."

A residential zone is not appropriate for the property because of the impacts of Friedman Memorial Airport, Hjelm said.

The airport flight path takes arriving aircraft directly over the Eccles property, which could present noise and safety problems to residents.

Airport manager Rick Baird, who said he was speaking on behalf of the Friedman Memorial Airport Authority, recommended non-residential uses for the property.

Preserving the land as agricultural open space is a "ridiculous notion," according to Robertson.

"That land is going to be developed," he said.

Robertson also said he did not see any purpose in creating an open-space buffer between the two cities, a concept that officials from both cities have espoused.

However, Robertson continued to emphasize at last week’s meeting that his client has no immediate plans for development.

"Good, long-range planning has to look out 10 to 15 years," Robertson said. "I’m not going to live long enough to see much LI developed over the property."

Whatever happens to the property, it appears that the city of Hailey is pursuing its negotiations with the land owner unilaterally.

That unilateral approach can occur because the city of Hailey recently adopted an ordinance, pursuant to Idaho law, that allows it to annex contiguous properties even if the land is not within the city’s area of impact.

The Eccles property could fall under both the city of Hailey’s and the city of Bellevue’s areas of impact.

When asked at last week’s meeting if the city of Bellevue or Blaine County would be included in the negotiations, Hjelm said comments would be welcome. But, he said, "there are no procedural requirements for Blaine County or Bellevue to be involved."

Blaine County commissioners, however, do not seem to share that view.

In a June 14 letter addressed to Hailey Mayor Brad Siemer, Commissioner Mary Ann Mix reminded the mayor that area-of-impact ordinances cannot be changed without renegotiating with the county.

The city of Hailey’s unilateral approach to the Eccles annexation also contradicts the planning strategies agreed on earlier this year by an ad hoc committee of planners from the cities of Hailey and Bellevue.

The ad hoc committee recommended that the Eccles property remain in residential zoning for five years, during which time the public would have an opportunity to purchase the development rights of the property.

The ad hoc committee also recommended that the city of Bellevue be equally represented in land use negotiations.

But comments from Bellevue officials last Tuesday night indicated that they feel less than included.

"Our city leaders have worked hard to maintain the [Bellevue] downtown core," said Bellevue P&Z administrator Diane Shay at the Tuesday meeting. "If the Eccles property is developed LI, it will rob the economy of the city of Bellevue, and I’m worried about that."

Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commissioner Parke Mitchell, who, like Shay, was a member of the ad hoc committee, seemed miffed by the move towards LI.

"Did you review the recommendations from the ad hoc committee?" Mitchell asked the Hailey P&Z. "LI was not recommended."

Becki Keefer was the only Hailey P&Z commissioner who opposed the recommendation.

Keefer said she had concerns about the lack of a specific development agreement with the developer. In addition, Keefer said she thought the city’s inventory of LI would be adequate with the annexation of developer Sharp’s airport business and industrial park.


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