The Bellevue City Council reached a momentous decision Thursday, Dec. 19, as council members unanimously voted to approve several applications related to a proposed subdivision in Slaughterhouse Canyon on land annexed into the city more than 10 years ago. The approved applications will allow for construction to begin on the first phase of the Strahorn subdivision.

“I’m really excited that we can talk about something else at the meetings now,” Mayor Ned Burns said with a laugh on Friday during a follow-up interview. “At the end of the day, it’s going to be a boost to Bellevue.”

The approved applications will allow for the first of five phases to begin, with 46 lots on 18.5 acres at the mouth of Slaughterhouse Canyon. At full buildout, the development will consist of 205 lots.

“We’re excited to work with the city and get some energy going,” applicant Jeff Pfaeffle told the council following the unanimous votes.

In addition, Pfaeffle offered to host a workshop for the city and future developers to learn how to simplify the approval process, which in this case has been a decade in the making.

Besides the general stipulations in city code on building a subdivision, the Strahorn developers faced a series of other hurdles before getting to this point, including a recession that stifled planned developments early on, as well as a community-led appeal of a traffic study paid for by the developer and court proceedings about the validity of the large-block plat. Through it all, Pfaeffle continued to communicate with city officials and employees to ultimately create an agreement on a development that would be beneficial to him and to the city.  

“I think they definitely were extremely thorough,” Pfaeffle said Monday.

The public hearings began on Sept. 9 to take comment on the planned-unit development and preliminary plat applications, and nearly 10 residents commented at that first meeting, voicing concerns over the development’s impact, access to public lands in the area and whether the development was in line with the city’s comprehensive plan. Over the past several months, council members took into account those residents’ concerns and ultimately crafted a planned-unit-development agreement with stipulations that satisfied both the city and the developer.

Those stipulations include:

  • Construction of a park inside the Strahorn subdivision but open to the public that will begin when 75 percent of the lots in phases 1 and 2 have been sold.

  • Development of a paved multi-use path.

  • Construction of off-site signs and striping for Cedar Street that will clearly designate Cedar Street between Seventh and Sixth streets as a pedestrian-only area.

  • Relocation of a Wood River Land Trust access road to a location agreed upon by the Land Trust and the city.

Pfaeffle said he was “ecstatic” following the vote and considered the process an important one that ultimately ended in his favor. He said construction will likely begin early in the spring, weather depending, and that lots will be available for purchase by late summer or early fall. He said the town currently has no residential lots for sale.

Councilwoman Tammy Davis, who sat on the council in 2009 when this process first began with a vote approving annexation of about 100 acres into the city on Jan. 22, 2009, told the Idaho Mountain Express on Friday that she is glad to see the process concluded after all this time.

“Growth is inevitable, and we should be growing,” she said. “This has been an amazing learning experience that’s really going to benefit the community.”

Though the process was long and tedious, Davis said she is optimistic that the council did everything in its power to appease Bellevue residents and approve a project that would be beneficial to the city and the developer.

“We all still did the best we could with the decisions before us,” she said.

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