A sizeable portion of farmland in east Hailey could become one of the city’s last undeveloped areas to receive new life with the proposed construction of a 145-unit residential subdivision.
Around 90 Hailey residents filled City Hall on Tuesday evening to attend a series of presentations and provide public comment on the Sunbeam subdivision, slated for development east of the Hiawatha Canal and south of Myrtle Street.
On the table before Planning and Zoning commissioners Tuesday were the Sunbeam subdivision planned-unit development and preliminary plat applications, submitted by local developer and applicant Marathon Partners.
Though neither application received approval during the three-and-a-half-hour hearing, a handful of questions were raised by interested parties and city staff.
As of Tuesday, 145 units are proposed for the 54-acre site, locally known as the “Dumke property.” Having been annexed to the city in 1981, the agricultural acreage falls within city limits and is expected to accommodate a diverse collection of lot sizes between 0.13 acres and 0.75 acres.
Most of the lots would fall above the 8,000-square-foot lot size minimum, though 66 would not, and several have been configured to be between 60 and 75 feet wide. Thus, Marathon Partners is seeking waivers to both minimum lot size and width.
The Sunbeam mixed single-family and townhome neighborhood would be built in two phases, according to a city staff report. At an initial P&Z hearing last month, the commission asked Ketchum-based project architect Ben Young to relocate most of the subdivision’s cottage-style townhomes to a more centralized location, a change reflected in architectural renderings presented Monday.
Young also increased sidewalk coverage and reconfigured intersections to intersect at 90-degree angles for safety purposes.
“We found pedestrian connections to be the most important,” he said.
Young considered the development’s approximately 10-acre public park one of its most valuable amenities. The park, which encompasses five more acres than what Hailey requires for new subdivisions, would feature playground equipment, a sledding hill and walking paths. A 10-foot-wide bike path running through the park would connect Sunbeam with the Old Cutters subdivision to the west, the Quigley trail system to the north and Curtis Park to the south.
“The idea is to create a park with strong connections to existing neighborhoods,” Young said.
A total of six connection points are proposed for Sunbeam at Carbonate Street, Doc Bar Road, El Dorado Drive, Grays Starlight Drive, San Badger Drive and Quigley Gulch Road. Water-system connections could be made at El Dorado or Carbonate streets, according to project representative Samantha Stahlnecker.
Public weighs in
Most of the nearly two dozen Hailey residents who spoke during the public-comment section commended Young for taking their prior concerns to heart. Several others said the development had potential to mitigate the shortage of middle-income housing in Hailey.
P&Z Chairwoman Janet Fugate said the Sunbeam subdivision could go beyond raising the city’s assessed value.
“We have designs that have been built to maximize the profit,” Fugate told Young. “This keeps community values in mind.”
The development intends to achieve National Green Building Standard certification and align with the Wood River Land Trust’s trout-friendly lawn program, Young said. That would entail limiting grass areas, encouraging more drought-tolerant plants, reducing daily watering and banning chemical runoff.
Traffic concerns remain
Ryan Hales, traffic and transportation engineer from Utah-based Hales Engineering, presented findings on Monday from a traffic study that examined impacts associated with the subdivision.
Hales also introduced delay-reduction measures to mitigate the effects of increased traffic to and from Sunbeam, such as protected-permissive traffic signals that could be installed at the eastbound and westbound approaches to the intersection of Myrtle and Main streets. That type of signaling would allow drivers to make left turns and clear the intersection quicker, Hales said.
“There are very few gaps in the traffic stream here. This intersection has earned an ‘F’ score,” he said.
Oliver Whitcomb, owner of Gravity Fitness and Tennis in Hailey, worried that the subdivision could funnel too much traffic to the Bullion and Myrtle Street intersections.
“You’re taking all these people and sending them to Main Street,” he said. “Has the city considered what this traffic flow is going to do for people trying to go south?”
Hiawatha resident Rachel Martin said Hales’ traffic study didn’t take into account future growth of the Old Cutters subdivision, and contended that increased traffic could threaten student safety.
“Myrtle Street is a school zone. You have 600 middle-schoolers traveling there five days a week,” she said.
Other concerns voiced during the hearing centered around water and wastewater infrastructure. While the developer currently uses surface water right from the Hiawatha Canal, it remains to be seen how Sunbeam will be irrigated.
The subdivision PUD and preliminary plat hearing was continued to Monday, March 2.