An obscure single-track path that has been used for more than 40 years in Hailey will soon be replaced with a sinuous asphalt one.
Plans for the nonmotorized path running about 300 feet through dense brush and trees between Sherwood Forest and China Gardens neighborhoods were approved by the Hailey Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday.
The design for the 12-foot-wide path will now go to the City Council for final approval, but already it has brought together residents who had been at odds over its construction.
P&Z Commissioner Richard Pogue congratulated city staff and numerous community members at City Hall on Monday for working out a compromise.
“This is what makes a community,” Pogue said.
The path is designed to accommodate emergency vehicles, and be used by cyclists and pedestrians, but will not be open for general motorized use.
The P&Z approved the design after two public workshops were held to work out differences between residents of the two neighborhoods.
The pathway construction was triggered last summer when Gordon Flade proposed the 14-unit Carbonate View development on vacant land in China Gardens.
City officials called for the development of a city street between the two neighborhoods to allow a second emergency access in and out of Sherwood Forest. A 60-foot right of way had been in place for that purpose since the 1970s.
Many Sherwood Forest residents said the road would impact them with too much traffic. Several China Gardens residents said a standard city street in the right of way was preferable, to ease traffic caused by the development.
The City Council weighed in with a recommendation that the path be a little bit of both, allowing only for emergency vehicles and nonmotorized public use.
Residents came together at the workshops to express concerns over the 100 or so small trees that were in the way of a road. The resulting curved design was drawn up to snake around five clusters of trees while providing room for 10 feet of snow storage on both sides of the path.
About 50 of the trees, measuring 6 inches or less in diameter, will be removed during construction, said Community Development Director Lisa Horowitz. The city will require a preconstruction assessment of potential damage to additional trees near the path, and a revegetation plan for grasses surrounding the path after it is built.
Because the southern half of the path lies in Hailey’s Flood Hazard Overlay District, a flood hazard development permit was required.
Rebecca Bundy, a certified floodplain manager working for the city, said she approved of the design.
“They did a god job,” Bundy said. “There will be negligible impact on the flow of floodwater in that area.”