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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of November 20 - 26, 2002


County scraps TDR ordinance

City negotiations still pending

Express Staff Writer

Sent aloft for the third time in five months, a proposed Blaine County transfer-of-development-rights ordinance was shot down again on Monday.

The intent of a TDR program is to preserve open space in the south county by allowing farmers and ranchers to sell development rights, as limited by their propertyís zoning, to the owners of land farther north.

The original proposal, dating at least to 1999, designated "receiving areas" in Agriculture-zoned land north of Pero Road. That was modified in July in favor of receiving areas around Hailey and Bellevue, when the county commissioners decided the comprehensive plan dictates that development occur closer to the countyís cities. That configuration was scrapped in September after Hailey and Bellevue officials protested that it encroached upon their planning authority.

The conceptís third incarnation, put before the public Monday, scrapped the idea of designated receiving areas entirely. Instead, each application for transfer of a development right would have been decided individually, judged by the proposed developmentís conformity to the comprehensive plan and its compatibility with surrounding development. Tacked on to that was a proposed requirement that the builders of homes larger than 4,500 square feet buy one development right for each additional 2,500 square feet of space.

That requirement, in particular, brought protests Monday in a packed meeting room at the Old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey. Most of the objectors were in the construction business, but even the commissioners acknowledged that the draft may have been too hastily conceived.

"I think itís a bogus link," said Jed Gray, representing the Sawtooth Board of Realtors. "If we want to restrict the size of houses in Blaine County, I donít have a problem with that, but I think we need to do something thatís not related to the TDR program."

David Hennessy, president of the Building Contractorsí Association of the Wood River Valley, went further, saying all his organizationís members oppose any restrictions on house size since such a thing would harm the areaís economy. Builder Steve Kearns said construction of one big house employs about 500 people.

Realtor Karl Bick pointed out that an ordinance limiting house size in Teton County near Jackson, Wyo., is before the Wyoming Supreme Court. He called the proposed 4,500-square foot limit "extremely arbitrary."

"I wonder if, taken on, youíre going to be able to sustain your position," he said.

Following public comment, Commissioner Dennis Wright said his support for a TDR program had waned with each new incarnation. In conclusion, the commissioners voted to postpone further drafts until they talk with Hailey and Bellevue officials about areas of city impact there.

The designations affect city planning since, under state law, cities can only annex land within their area of city impact, unless annexation is requested by a landowner. The areas are established by negotiation between the county and each city. Hailey and Bellevue have agreed upon a line between them, but that line has not been accepted by the county, which would like to see space between the two areas.

A special meeting of the Hailey City Council is set for noon Thursday to discuss the subject. Bellevue Planning and Zoning Administrator Steve Almquist said Tuesday that he is writing a new draft area-of-city-impact proposal to put before the city council at its meeting Dec. 12.



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