The Hailey City Council voted unanimously Monday to rezone a half-acre acre lot in South Woodside subdivision from the Recreational Greenbelt to General Residential Zone to facilitate construction of a rental housing development, despite strong opposition from neighbors to the project.
The land in question, across Woodside Boulevard from Power Engineers and adjacent to the Building Material Thrift Store, was donated to the city in 1989 for “public use,” and has been used for many years for city equipment storage.
ARCH Community Housing Trust has plans to develop half the property with a four-unit rental housing complex, using the remaining half for open space and trail access to the Toe of the Hill Trail.
The Hailey Parks and Lands Board and the Planning and Zoning Commission supported the plan in recent votes.
Hailey City Councilman and 30-year Woodside resident Pat Cooley called the plan a “workable compromise” between proponents of open space and those calling for more affordable housing.
City Councilwoman Colleen Teevin cast the single vote in opposition to changing the comprehensive plan’s land-use map designation of the parcel, from Other Public Greenspace to Traditional Residential, to facilitate the development.
The full council then voted in favor of the rezone application’s compatibility with the comprehensive plan, despite some reluctance on the part of City Councilwoman and Old Hailey resident Martha Burke.
“If I lived there, I’d want it to be a park,” Burke said.
Burke asked City Attorney Ned Williamson if ARCH Executive Director Michelle Griffith had any other locations in mind for the development.
“That’s irrelevant,” Williamson said.
South Woodside resident Gadrie Edmunds had mounted a legal effort to derail the project. She delivered a PowerPoint presentation Monday that described the South Woodside neighborhood of 439 homes as underserved by parks, based on the Hailey comprehensive plan’s stated goal of developing 10 acres of parks for every 1,000 residents.
Edmunds also pointed out that six ARCH housing projects have already been built in South Woodside in the past 18 months.
“Our neighborhood has been very welcoming to affordable housing,” she said.
Mayor Fritz Haemmerle described the lot as a “junkyard” and derided those speaking against the rezone as coming to the table too late.
“For 10 years I have never heard a hue and cry about this,” Haemmerle said.
“If given a chance, the neighborhood would come together to make it a park,” South Woodside resident Jamie Canfield replied. “There are kids playing in the street and in the Power Engineers parking lot. That is a safety issue, and a liability issue.”
Former Parks and Lands Board Chairwoman Becki Keefer spoke in favor of the rezone, as did former Blaine County Housing Authority Executive Director David Patrie and real estate agent Anna Mathieu.