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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.
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For the week of April 30 - May 6, 2003


History worth repeating

Discussion of a proposal to rezone areas in tiny Picabo took a disturbing turn last week at a meeting of the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission.

Someone suggested looking at Picabo—barely a wide spot in the road on the way to Carey—as a place for high density development.

Of all places for this, Picabo is probably the worst. It has no water or sewer system. It lies in the middle of the area’s most active agricultural area. Silver Creek, the world-famous blue-ribbon trout stream, flows nearby. Its sensitive ecology would be damaged by urban-style development.

Someone also suggested that allowing high densities in Picabo could create "non-regulated affordable housing." This is an illusion in places like Blaine County, where land is expensive, the lifestyle enviable, and the economy decent.

As off-base as they may be, the ideas are surfacing because of planning stalemates.

The county has long looked for ways to protect its ranches and farms by enabling transfer of development densities to lands more suitable for development. It is also looking to address the need for affordable housing. Yet, the county’s five cities have rejected becoming receiving areas for greater densities and have failed to address housing needs.

Left unresolved, the stalemates could foster ideas that could have hideous consequences in the future.

Thirty years ago, the county agreed to retain its rural character, while the cities agreed to develop infrastructures to support higher density populations. The city councils, mayors, county commissioners and planners saw this as the only sensible way to avoid opening the floodgates of development and sacrificing all that makes Blaine County a place apart.

Until someone comes up with a better idea, this is history worth repeating—over and over again.

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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.