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Wednesday, June 16, 2004


Hailey limits building size

Move prevents ‘box stores’ from grouping structures

Express Staff Writer

Ending a moratorium on big building construction, the Hailey City Council, Monday, approved a new measure amending the city’s bulk building requirements for wholesale and retail structures.

The moratorium was intended to give the city a chance to close loopholes in the city’s building code that would have permitted a large store such as Wal-Mart to group several structures, said Hailey City Planner Kathy Grotto.

An example would be a scenario in which an entity owned two lots side-by-side, and on one lot built a retail store complying with the size limit, and on the other lot built a wholesale center; or, a retail store complying with the size limit, and having an adjacent building utilized for inventory storage or a showroom.

Also possible before passage of the amendment would have been a wholesaler that is not connected with a retail outlet but selling to "contractors only."

The amendment adds definitions to the terms wholesale and retail and expands definitions so that any business that involves "in whole or in part" retail and or wholesale sales is included. Now, any businesses in the various zoning districts that allow wholesale or retail sales are subject to the size limitations for any business that includes those uses.

With the amendment the term "building coverage" is replaced by "gross floor area" so that the city has a limitation of 36,000 square feet or 25,000 square feet, regardless of the number of stories a building has but depending on zoning.

The council passed the building moratorium in March 2004 and the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission held a public hearing on the proposed amendments in May 2004.

The change is intended to comply with the city’s comprehensive plan, including "preservation of the architectural and ambient quality of the Hailey Business District." Other goals of the new ordinance include maintenance and encouragement of "a healthy and diverse community center" and a "limitation of the maximum floor size of commercial buildings in order to limit commercial sprawl and maintain community character."

Wholesalers could have a significantly negative impact on local merchants, Grotto said.

The greater purpose of the amendment is to "encourage national and regional commercial entities to support local design, character, and economic policies."

In the limited business district, the gross floor area allowed is 36,000 square feet. In the business district the largest allowable buildings or structures will be grouped retail and wholesale operations limited to an aggregated gross floor area of 72,000 square feet.

City Attorney Ned Williamson said there is legal precedent to protect the city from big box businesses that might try to work their way around the new amendment and its limitations.


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