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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 2 - 8, 2002


Transfer rights 
proposal modified

Express Staff Writer

The latest incarnation of a proposed transfer-of-development-rights ordinance would take in all the residential-zoned area in Blaine County as a receiving area.

New proposals made by county commissioners during a meeting at the Old County Courthouse on Sept. 25 were intended to address objections to a previous draft that would have clustered receiving areas around Hailey and Bellevue.

The intent of a TDR program is to help preserve south-county agriculture by allowing farmers to profit from the increasing value of their land without selling it outright.

As proposed, it would create 5,300 acres of "sending areas" on Agricultural-zoned land south of Pero Road. The owners of property there could sell the rights, at a free-market price, to create as many lots as the zoning for their property allows. Those rights would be transferred to the owners of land in "receiving areas," who could create one extra lot beyond that allowed by current zoning for each TDR purchased.

A previously proposed "receiving area" map, presented during a commissioners’ meeting in July, met with resistance from Hailey and Bellevue city officials, who felt that it encroached upon their authority to plan development on land likely to someday be included within their borders.

In response, the commissioners decided to scrap the creation of a designated receiving area entirely. Instead, each application to acquire a TDR would be decided on an individual basis, judged upon its conformity to the county’s comprehensive plan and its compatibility with surrounding development.

"You can ask, but there will be no guarantees," Commissioner Mary Ann Mix said about the process to the approximately 25 people attending last Wednesday night’s meeting.

Commissioner Dennis Wright said an application for a TDR will go through a process identical to that for a rezoning application. That means first obtaining a recommendation from the planning and zoning commission, then approval from the county commissioners.

"It’s an extremely thorough and open process," he said.

Despite the proposed elimination of designated "receiving areas," Hailey and Bellevue city officials maintained objections to the program.

Hailey Mayor Al Lindlay contended that increased density on Hailey’s and Bellevue’s outskirts will increase traffic, sewage volumes and fire-fighting responsibilities.

"The county is transferring a load to the cities and there’s no compensation for it," Lindlay said.

Bellevue Mayor John Barton and Councilman Parke Mitchell suggested that the TDR program be suspended until an area-of-city-impact agreement is in place for Bellevue. Barton contended that annexation of surrounding areas into the cities is a more orderly way to increase density there than a TDR program would be.

Barton also pointed out that the elimination of designated receiving areas close to Hailey and Bellevue does not mean residents there can breathe a sigh of relief. It just means that the whole county north of Pero Road is now a receiving area, he said.

South county farmer Larry Schoen, a member of the citizens advisory committee that developed the proposed TDR program, contended that any means of fostering development in or around the cities will benefit them.

"Does Mayor Barton want to continue to see vacant lots on Main Street in Hailey and Bellevue, or does he want to see development…that will make the cities become more thriving places?" Schoen asked.

In an interview, Commissioner Dennis Wright said he doubted that any TDR program will be heavily used, and he therefore found it difficult to understand the level of anxiety the proposal has created. It’s not, he said, a case of "once they open the floodgates, then here they come." He pointed out that anyone, anywhere, can already apply to the county for a rezone of his or her property, in terms of both use and density.

"It’s not a threat to anyone’s way of life or to future growth or to anything else," he said.

But Ketchum resident and public meeting habitue Mickey Garcia challenged the TDR program’s goals themselves.

"If you knew squat about economics, you’d know you can’t save farms," he said during last week’s meeting. "You’re (just) creating estates for wealthy people."

Garcia contended that due to the flat terrain and ease of access there, the county should be encouraging development south of Bellevue, not trying to prevent it.

Commission Chairwoman May Ann Mix set a date of Nov. 18 for a public hearing and vote on a TDR ordinance.



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