When a mere five electors cast their ballots in the May 21 election, they will determine one of the biggest financial decisions in Idaho history, totaling $781 MILLION dollars.
At stake is a proposed 7,000 unit housing development north of Eagle encompassing more than 5,600 acres using a law passed by the legislature several years ago called a “Community Infrastructure District.”
The Spring Valley CID was created by the city of Eagle at the behest of M3 Development. At the time, October of 2011, the GUARDIAN pointed out nobody lived in the district. The developer paid big bucks for some homes off Idaho Highway 16 which were annexed into the CID. Only two of the homes are occupied–3 people in one and 2 in the other. They appear to be the only legal voters.
Meanwhile the Ada County Election Office is sending 50 ballots–one for each parcel of land owned by M3–to the authorized agent at the developer’s Phoenix, Arizona headquarters. Clerk Chris Rich told the GUARDIAN he will keep those 50 ballots apart from the other five until the legal issues surrounding electors have been resolved by the various attorneys and perhaps a judge.
The GUARDIAN was concerned about the constitutional aspects of the election process which is an official government election conducted under the consolidated election process by the Ada County Clerk. We contacted state Senator Branden Durst with our concerns about exactly WHO can be an elector and vote. He sought an opinion from the office of Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden. We have circulated that opinion to all concerned.
The informal opinion referred to the constitutional mandate that only citizens of Idaho and residents of the county are allowed to vote. That position seems to be in conflict with the CID law. The law was lobbied by the Suncor (Avimor) developers.
In short, the law allows developers to sell revenue and general obligation bonds on the open market to be repaid by future homeowners. That way the developer doesn’t have to get loans or otherwise fund streets, sewer, water, etc. Each new home sold would have a lien for the cost of development in addition to the costs of taxes, construction, insurance, interest etc.
While there would be virtually no security for bond investors, we were concerned that it would be very easy to market the project as, “Approved by the voters of the district created by the local governing authority.” When in fact, no property owners can vote because they don’t live in the state and the approval–if it comes–was at the whim of 5 renters.
The AG opinion letter to Sen. Durst follows:
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