20-02-12 Bellevue ACI.jpg

An area of city impact recommended by the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission in October would include land extending to the Hailey city limits.

The Bellevue City Council expressed strong support Monday for extending an area-of-city-impact boundary on the east side of state Highway 75 from Bellevue all the way to the Hailey city limits, in an effort to control entirely a 227-acre farm field for annexation.

Bellevue and Hailey have been at odds in recent months with regard to overlapping proposed area-of-city-impact boundaries on the Flying Hat Ranch. The Eccles family has requested that their entire property be annexed into Bellevue.

“This is our opportunity,” City Councilman Shaun Mahoney said. “When Hailey drew their little map, they didn’t talk to us.”

ACI maps and ordinances are mechanisms that cities can use to have more input on county development than is otherwise provided for under the county development process. They are also used to designate areas for possible annexation.

Mahoney recommended that the council be “a little aggressive” in its approach to the ACI boundary, rather than limit the potential area of annexation.

City Councilwoman Tammy Davis agreed.

“I don’t think we should back down at all,” Davis said.

Councilman Doug Brown expressed similar sentiments, while Councilwoman Kathryn Goldman wrote in a letter that she would prefer a joint public meeting among the cities and Blaine County before moving forward. Councilman Greg Cappel was not present.

Neither city’s ACI maps have been ratified as Blaine County begins oversight on negotiations that could settle the ACI boundary issue.

Bellevue Community Development Director Diane Shay said in an interview that the city of Hailey has proposed an ACI map that would reach southward into 110 acres of the Eccles ranch, leaving Bellevue 64 acres of developable land.

Shay said the Eccles annexation could provide area for the city to grow.

“We have a dire need for playing fields,” she said. “I have only three industrial lots left and a handful of residential lots. We need areas to expand to keep our city vitalized.”

In recent weeks, city planners from Hailey and Bellevue have been meeting together to work out an understanding of each city’s priorities.

Bellevue Mayor Ned Burns instructed city staff on Monday to call for a meeting of Bellevue, Hailey and Blaine County leaders to discuss the issues that are never discussed jointly because the two city councils meet at the same time each week.

“We haven’t been able to participate in each other’s process,” Burns said.

Burns instructed the city’s attorney, Rick Allington, on Monday to find out from Blaine County if it would use language specified in county code to limit the Eccles annexation, or rely on state code that Burns said would allow the city to annex the entire Eccles property as a “category A” annexation, one that is voluntary and includes land contiguous to the city.

“I want clarification on that,” Burns said.

Burns said he did not support ratification of Bellevue’s proposed ACI map at this time because it could trigger a process whereby Blaine County would possess authority in determining final ACI boundaries.

The council tabled a public hearing on the proposed ACI map and associated ordinance to a date uncertain, to gather more information.

Blaine County Land Use Director Tom Bergin, who was present at the Monday meeting, said the county will be processing information provided on ACI-related data from both cities in coming weeks.

“We are interested in ongoing conversations,” Bergin said.

Email the writer: tevans@mtexpress.com

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