A dispute over a decision by the Bellevue City Council hindering development of the proposed Strahorn subdivision will be resolved in court, following the filing of a complaint by Strahorn Partners, which wants to develop 47 home sites in Slaughterhouse Canyon.

Filed in Blaine County 5th District Court on April 8, the complaint seeks a declaratory judgement confirming the validity of a large-block plat.

The plat delineates how the land would be subdivided and is required by Bellevue code to accompany a planned-unit development application. The plat was also required by an annexation agreement between the city and the developer.

However, during a meeting on Jan. 29, the City Council stated that the plat had not been recorded with the Blaine County Recorder’s Office within the required 12 months after it was submitted as part of the annexation agreement in 2013, making it “null and void” under city code.

Strahorn argues in its complaint that the plat is valid because it was created in accordance with the annexation agreement, which does not stipulate a time frame for recording it. The complaint also states that the plat was done with the “concurrence and cooperation of the city.” Per the annexation agreement, Strahorn gave one of the five large blocks to the city. The block, 9.2 acres, was to create a public park land area.

“The City, by accepting Large Block 5, and numerous third parties in the ordinary course of business have relied on the validity of the Large Block Plat,” the complaint states.

The complaint asks that the court issue a declaration that the plat is valid and governed by the annexation agreement, making the City Council’s decision on Jan. 29 “null, void and of no effect.”

Following an executive session Monday night, the City Council directed the city’s attorney, Rick Allington, to respond to the complaint. Community Development Director Diane Shay said via email Monday that the city did not have a comment on the matter at this time.

Strahorn Partners, led by developer Jeff Pfaeffle, has been eager to break ground since last summer, when construction plans stalled following an appeal filed by a group of Bellevue citizens of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of a conditional-use permit. Following the appeals process, the permit was reapproved by the P&Z, and the next step was to be a City Council meeting to approve a planned-unit development application and the preliminary large-block plat. The Jan. 29 meeting was to include opportunity for public comment. However, prior to any comments from the public, the council went into executive session and returned with the conclusion that the large-block plat was void.

Pfaeffle spoke with the Idaho Mountain Express on Tuesday morning and said that because there was no general consensus on how to proceed with the large-block plat, and to avoid additional appeals of the city’s approvals, the decision should be left to a neutral third party to decide the validity of the large-block plat.

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