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For the week of July 11 - July 17, 2001


Hailey council favors housing option

Express Staff Writer

The Hailey City Council dismissed the exact and literal interpretation of its zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan Monday night in favor of a more flexible interpretation for the sake of creating four "reasonably priced" single family housing units.

The action came during an appeal by Silver Spur Development Corp. of a denial by the Hailey P&Z of its planned unit development application on May 1.

The property is owned by Sprenger Grubb and Associates, but on condition of PUD approval, the land will be purchased by Silver Spur Development Corp.

A PUD allows a developer to bend zoning restrictions in exchange for something to be given the city.

The Silver Spur application was for building four single-family detached residences on a half-acre lot at 2640 Woodside Blvd., just south of the townhouses known as the Bunkhouses.

Since the lots for the project are smaller than the 6,000 square feet required by the property’s zoning of General Residential, the developer applied for a PUD. In exchange for the smaller lot size, the developer offered to give the city $4,000 to be used for its parks.

Speaking for the P&Z, commission chair Becki Keefer told the Council that the application was denied because the project did not offer any common usable open space, and the project needed more units built on it to increase its density.

The first item conflicted with a criterion for approving a PUD ¾ "preserving open space for the benefit of residents of planned unit developments, as well as the community in general."

The second item conflicted with the comprehensive plan’s intent to concentrate the city’s population within its limits. The Silver Spur project is zoned for 5 units, and the commission thought that density should be maintained.

Councilman Rick Davis said the need "to promote reasonably priced housing" was an ethical matter for him. He said there was a demand for single family homes priced between $130,000 and $150,000 and that he felt strongly about providing housing for people who worked in Hailey.

He said he thought the project’s density did not conflict with the comprehensive plan since the Balmoral Apartments site already is a high density area in Woodside.

Councilwoman Susan McBryant argued against the project, saying it "doesn’t meet the criteria of a PUD."

"You shouldn’t allow projects that are in conflict with ordinances that have the strength of law," she said.

If the Council wanted to promote reasonably priced housing with a project like Silver Spur, she said, then it needed "to change the PUD standards" first and not interpret those standards "for this one developer."

Council members purposely shied away from calling Silver Spur affordable housing since the project would not be deed restricted.

A deed restriction means the cost of a home can only increase a certain percentage each year and that the price is set low so people at lower income levels can purchase it.

Davis made the motion to approve the PUD, which included stating that the PUD was in conformance with the comprehensive plan and that open space was provided for, in lieu, by the developers.

Davis and Councilwoman Martha Burke voted in favor of Silver Spur, whereas McBryant and Councilman Don Keirn voted against it.

Voting in favor of the reasonable housing the project would provide, Mayor Brad Siemer broke the tie and the motion passed.

Afterward, Davis said "sometimes it is nice to go by the letter of the law and other times it’s nice to have flexibility," as in this instance when reasonably priced housing is provided.

"If I get flak, so be it," he said. "I have to think of what’s best for the whole community."

The next step for the project is to get approval for a preliminary plat. This application for approval will be on the Council’s Aug. 13 meeting agenda.

Siemer also announced at the meeting that the city was buying 10 lots in Woodside to be included in land already donated by Sprenger Grubb and Associates for a park.

The city will pay $290,450 for the lots, half their market value.

The total amount of land for the park comes to 8.6 acres and is located east of Ironwood Tennis Club and abutting the hillside.

Negotiations for the 10 lots began after Sprenger Grubb and Associates donated land for a park as part of its resubdivision of plat 27 of Woodside.

This land, city planner Kathy Grotto said, had no street frontage, which the city wanted, so the developers offered the adjacent 10 lots with street frontage for half their market value.

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.