The Blaine County commissioners will hear a pair of appeals next week fighting the Planning and Zoning Commission’s 2018 decision to allow Idaho Power Co. to build a redundant transmission line through the Wood River Valley.
The board will deliberate on both challenges on Monday, May 6, beginning at 9:30 a.m. in Old County Courthouse in Hailey. The hearing is open to the public, but no public comment will be taken during the meeting.
By the February deadline, the county Land Use Department received two appeals to the P&Z’s reluctant December decision granting Idaho Power a conditional-use permit to build the redundant line.
The first was filed by attorney Fritz Haemmerle on behalf of Raymond Slomski and 23 other parties, arguing that the line ought to be buried through the scenic corridor along state Highway 75. That’s always been an option, if the county can foot the bill. Per Idaho Power’s estimates based on a study by Power Engineers, it would cost some $34 million above the base price of $30 million that the company has agreed to pay if the county wants to bury the transmission line from the Hailey substation to where it is already scheduled to dive underground west of Elkhorn Road.
The second, filed on behalf of Gregory Adams and Peter Richardson of Rock Rolling Properties LLC, asks first for the decision to be reversed, disallowing the line. Failing that, it echoes Slomski’s request to bury the line. As a third option, it requests that the commissioners require the line to go underground through the McHanville neighborhood, south of Ketchum, to where it’s scheduled to be buried at Elkhorn Road.
As Rock Rolling Properties, Adams and Richardson own a pair of properties between Hospital Drive and Highway 75 south of Ketchum.
The route, which was approved last November, takes the line east out of the substation along Cloverly Lane to Buttercup Road. From there, it would head north along the road, then follow the bike path. The line would span East Fork Road and cross the highway about 1,000 feet north of the traffic light at East Fork’s intersection with Highway 75. From there, it would continue up the west side of the highway another 3-plus miles before arcing up the hillside behind St. Luke’s hospital and hooking back beside the bike path until its planned transition underground west of the light at Elkhorn Road.
It would back up the existing transmission line from Hailey to Ketchum, which follows a route to the east of Highway 75 into the East Fork area, and then through parts of Elkhorn and Sun Valley. The poles would range between 4 and 15 feet higher than the poles along the existing route.