The Hailey City Council recently considered the important issue of area of city impact. Hailey’s area of city impact, has not been updated since 1994, and state law and good planning practices tell us this work should be done every 10 years. I stated in my opening remarks, “Success in Bellevue affects the success of Hailey. If Bellevue thrives, Hailey thrives.” I feel this spirit of cooperation is critical as we begin discussions with Blaine County and the city of Bellevue over the land that resides between the two towns, and how to plan for the growth of each. I cannot stress enough that the path to success is through mutual respect, listening and compromise. 

Hailey has established clear goals for our area of city impact proposal to Blaine County. Those goals include meaningful open space delineation between the towns; allowing only airport-compatible development in the airport critical zones and room for both towns to grow. Our maps show 41 acres for Hailey to grow into, and 64 acres for Bellevue, with open space between.

We think this is a very fair start. We plan to continue our commitment from 1994 that Hailey will only annex in our area of city impact. That commitment will allow citizens, property owners and other jurisdictions to have some certainty about where growth will occur.

Hailey has tried to be logical in the development of our proposed area of city impact. We have examined remaining acreage for growth within city limits and within our proposed area of city impact. We have looked at the capacity of our infrastructure. We plan to use population growth rates in consultation with Blaine County to understand now much land our town reasonably needs for the future. We expect that Blaine County will ask for consistent data and demographics from both Hailey and Bellevue, so that the citizens know that both cities’ proposals are being evaluated as “apples to apples.” Staff from Bellevue, Hailey and Blaine County work very well together, and I am confident they will continue to do so.

Finally, it is our goal that the process underway not result in overlapping areas of city impact. We understand that there can only be overlap if the county agrees, in which case we all follow the procedure laid out in the statute, a process that could result in many years of delay and cost for both cities as well as unnecessary uncertainty for property owners. Extra cost and delay don’t benefit any of the parties. I hope that the leaders of both cities and the county can move forward in a timely manner.

As mayor of Hailey, I will continue to prioritize our working relationship with Bellevue and Blaine County to find a workable solution for all.

Martha Burke is the mayor of Hailey.

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