Bellevue’s Planning and Zoning Commission took the first step in forming an area-of-city-impact map on Monday night, after six to eight months of “fruitless” discussions between the city, Hailey and Blaine County.
The meeting came after Bellevue broke off negotiations with Hailey, which claims an overlapping portion of land under its own area of city impact.
State law requires the map, which is used to identify areas in the unincorporated county that the city deems significant along its borders. Areas included in the map may be included in annexations into the city, or simply land that the city wants to track for significant changes, like river restoration, mining activity or future developments.
One area of possible development is Eccles’ Flying Heart Ranch, which is currently applying for annexation into the city of Bellevue. But, its contested: 27 acres of the plot on the east side of state Highway 75 are included in maps drafted by both Bellevue and Hailey.
The current property owners want to be part of Bellevue, according to an Oct. 21 letter to the P&Z from attorney J. Evan Robertson, who represents the owner of the ranch.
“This letter is to reaffirm my client’s pending annexation petition to the City of Bellevue,” Robertson wrote. “And to assure you and the Bellevue City Council and its Planning and Zoning Commission, of our opposition to having that property included in the Hailey Area of City Impact.”
Representatives from both cities and the county had been in informal negotiations on an area of city impact, or ACI, ordinance, according to Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns. But talks stalled this fall, he said.
“These negotiations have reached an impasse and further negotiations would be fruitless,” Burns wrote in the letter to the commissioners dated Sept. 18.
Bellevue staff presented a draft of the map from the city’s perspective to the P&Z at Monday’s meeting, which included areas that can be reasonably expected to be annexed in the future, as well as geographic features around the Big Wood River upstream of town, and side canyons outside the city limits.
Not all of the areas are earmarked for future development, according to David Patrie, a consultant with Sawtooth Strategies hired by Bellevue. But including them in the map would keep the city informed of potential mining activity in some canyons, and river restoration projects that could impact the city’s section of the river, or its water supply in Muldoon Canyon.
Unincorporated land is of high value to the city, which has limited space to grow within its own boundaries. Right now, there are 40 undeveloped General Residential-zoned lots in the city limits, and only three open light-industrial lots, according to Bellevue City Development Director Diane Shay. (Shay’s figure does not include the 47 General Residential lots proposed in the Strahorn subdivision that is being proposed at the mouth of Slaughterhouse Canyon.)
At Monday’s meeting, Blaine County Land Use Director Tom Bergin advised the P&Z to base the map on “defensible decisions” capable of withstanding questions from Hailey or the county. Ultimately, Blaine County must sign off on the ordinance.
The public hearing on the ACI was continued to Nov. 4, at which time the public will have more opportunity to give input on the map.