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For the week of October 11 through 17, 2000

Hailey should protect charm and livability

For advice, the city of Hailey could do a lot worse than heed a 200-year-old admonition from Thomas Jefferson.

"Delay," Jefferson wrote to George Washington in 1792 as the new United States hurried to put together a mechanism of government, "is preferable to error."

The Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission put its stamp of approval on the proposed new North Hailey Plaza last week, without sufficiently pondering the immediate impact of this project in its specific setting, or the questions it poses for future planning and developments.

Objections raised at the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission provide opportunities for the city to chart a course for the community as it emerges into a new period of growth fueled by investors who’re discovering Hailey’s potential.

Hailey has the option to avoid mistakes of other communities that welcomed unsightly development in the name of progress.

It’s a truism that the Wood River Valley thrives because of its lifestyle. Nothing is more essential to lifestyle than environment.

And environment is more than just spectacular scenery. Environment includes noise, air and water quality, compatible architecture, law enforcement, arts and culture, fine educational facilities—and preventing light pollution.

The disciple of so-called "dark skies" laws, Dr. Stephen Pauley, spotted in the North Hailey Plaza the impact of the development’s nighttime lighting—it would transform the otherwise tranquil night into day and "blow the socks off" drivers entering the city from the north, as he put it.

Dazzling lighting is not vital to attracting customers.

Communities throughout the nation that have shown the wisdom of "dark skies" ordinances and laws restricting the size and types of commercial signs report no slowdown in business.

In fact, ending light and visual pollution creates an uncluttered and friendly atmosphere for communities.

If North Hailey Plaza’s lighting scheme goes ahead as planned, the city will have difficulty prohibiting other developers from filling the night skies with showers of light and creating a garish nighttime look for the community.

Not incidentally, insisting on safe pedestrian access and traffic controls to the plaza also is imperative as a standard for commercial improvements.

Hailey has the potential for growing into a reputation as one of Idaho’s most charming and most livable communities.

But to do so, standards for growth must be controlled by city fathers and mothers who’re responsible for the character of the entire community, and not set by developers whose vision is confined to a single commercial tract.


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