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Wednesday, March 3, 2004


Bellevue sets
building size limits

Express Staff Writer

The Bellevue City Council voted to limit the size of commercial construction in the city to 36,000 square feet Thursday, Feb. 26. The decision came in just under the wire as a six-month building moratorium would have expired this month.

The city instituted the moratorium last fall because the city did not have an ordinance that set building size limitations in the community. That fact left the city exposed to the possibility of facing building applications from "box store" developers.

Had the city not passed the ordinance before the six-month moratorium expired, it would not have been permitted under Idaho code to institute a second moratorium for another 12 months.

The Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission settled on size limits of 36,000 gross square feet for commercial buildings in the business district.

A variety of people spoke in favor of the building limit ordinance and Hailey Planning Director Kathy Grotto submitted a letter expressing the benefits of keeping box stores at bay.

Citing a book titled "Home Town Advantage," Grotto said communities that support local business owners see more of the profits from those businesses stay in the community.

The commission had also recommended a limit of 25,250 square feet in the limited business district, but the City Council saw the number as an oversight.

"I donít want to see a huge store on Second Street," Councilwoman Vivian Ivie said.

The council passed the ordinance as it was forwarded from the commission, but council members expect to make some amendments to get the best ordinance possible for the city.

The commission had also recommended that new buildings be restricted to two floors. Gross floor area is the square footage within a building footprint plus the square footage of additional floors measured from the exterior walls.

"I think (36,000 square feet is) the maximum size," said councilman Parke Mitchell. "Why are we even considering letting some big corporation in here? I only have two months left on this council and I'm not going to see that happen."

The commission voted unanimously in favor of the building limitation.



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