local weather Click for Sun Valley, Idaho Forecast
 front page
 last week
 express jobs
 about us
 advertising info

 sun valley guide
 real estate guide
 sv catalogs



Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

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 February 19 - 25, 2003


Bellevue officials rap county rezone proposal

Panel demands area-of-city-impact agreement

Express Staff Writer

Bellevue Mayor John Barton and several City Council members Thursday strongly criticized a proposal by Blaine County planners to establish a new zoning district that would permit high-density affordable housing near cities.

"If this is done next to Bellevue it’s going to interfere with our open market," Barton said. "I would like to see the county not interfere. I don’t want to see it near Bellevue."

In a half-hour discussion of the proposal Thursday, the mayor and the City Council agreed that they would like to complete negotiations with the county on an area-of-city-impact agreement before the county acts on any plan that might impact the city’s outlying areas.

"I think the message is pretty clear," Council President Parke Mitchell said. "We want to see an ACI agreement."

At issue is an evolving proposal by the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission to create a "Community Housing Residential Zoning District."

The proposal is essentially an effort by the county to encourage the construction of new affordable-housing projects near developed areas with established infrastructure.

Specifically, the plan would establish areas in which landowners could apply to have lots of one to 30 acres in size rezoned into the new CH-R district. If the rezone was granted, the property owner could then apply to the county for permission to build a planned-unit development incorporating both free-market and deed-restricted housing units.

The proposal in its current form calls for allowing a minimum of five units per acre and a maximum of 10 units per acre. Permitted developments could include single-family homes, duplexes and multi-family structures.

A draft ordinance that proposes the new zoning district notes that the Blaine County Housing Authority in 1997 "identified a need for over 500 units of affordable housing in Blaine County."

The draft document also notes that the county’s comprehensive plan "states that the free market has not addressed middle- and lower-income housing, and, if left to its own means, will look to higher end, low-density housing that is easier to build, market and sell."

However, Barton on Thursday said the county’s premises are significantly flawed. He said Bellevue has plenty of affordable housing to offer, and the need for new community-housing projects is mostly limited to the Ketchum-Sun Valley area.

"If you drive around town right now, you see a lot of ‘For Rent’ signs," he said. "I think it’s a solution looking for a problem."

He added: "I think if affordable housing is a crisis for Sun Valley and Ketchum, (then) the onus is on them and not the county."

Barton warned City Council members that the plan could permit a "Balmoral-style apartment building" on the fringes of Bellevue, referring to the sometimes-maligned affordable-housing project already in place in Hailey’s Woodside area.

Barton said he believes the city needs to have an ACI agreement in place before the proposal is considered—and possibly approved—by county commissioners. Without the agreement, the CH-R proposal could "take away our ability to grow our city as we please," he noted.

Councilman Wayne Douthit agreed that Bellevue would be in a better position to manage its future if the ACI agreement were established as soon as possible. He noted that the ACI agreement—which essentially would establish boundaries within which cities can annex land over time—would not preclude the county from pursuing the community-housing initiative.

"Even with the ACI agreement, the decision is still theirs," he said.

Barton prompted city staffers and council members to act on the most recent ACI proposal sent to Bellevue by the county.

"I think it’s fair to say the ball’s in our court," he said.

"Well, let’s hit the ball," Councilman Mitchell replied.

Council members finally agreed to send a letter to county officials stating the city’s position.

The county P&Z will review the CH-R proposals Thursday, Feb. 27, at 6:30 p.m. in the Old County Courthouse, Hailey.

Ski Reports


Mountain Jobs

Formula Sports

Idaho Conservation League



Edmark GM Superstore : Nampa, Idaho

Premier Resorts Sun Valley

High Country Property Rentals

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.