As the leading “growthophobe” on the Idaho blog scene, the GUARDIAN is forced to comment on the latest “planned development” which was announced across the front page of the Statesman Monday.
In a journalistic “coup” (we used to call that a scoop) Cynthia Sewell tells of yet another Arizona developer with plans to pave and populate our once wide open spaces. This time the Arizona guy wants to ruin 6,800 acres of rolling foothills north of Eagle.
You can check out Sewell’s growth story for details, but the GUARDIAN has it on good authority the Arizona land dude is as sharp as the needles on a saguaro cactus. (for you non-library types that’s “suh-worro”)
He is playing Eagle’s feel good happy mayor Nancy Merrill like one of those western swing guitar songs that originated in Arizona and even supports Boise mayor “Team Dave” Bieter on the issue of planned communities being attached to cities and not stand alone like Avimor on Highway 55 at Spring Valley Ranch.
The Arizona guy is selling land to “horse people” and scamming the city of Eagle at the same time. Here’s how it works:
–Eagle is negotiating with the BLM to get nearly 2,000 acres at $10 an acre to “protect” the foothills north of their city with a park. Developer Dude comes in and builds adjacent to the park, offers people miles and miles of “equestrian trails,” and citizens of Eagle foot the bill to develop the park and trail system which will help sell lots. The “equestrian development” would fall flat without Eagle annexing and writing ordinances that allow horses in their city.
–Without annexation the developer would have to provide water, sewer, fire, etc. at his expense. Of course he prefers to be annexed into Eagle over the cost of complying with county ordinances.
Even so, there is an increasing mood among city councilors and mayors in Ada County that if they don’t annex potential development land, it will fall under the rules, laws, plans, and tax revenues of the county–not the cities. They all think they can do a better job than the county when it comes to “good development.” We don’t know the answer to that one, but we fear the county is too eager to approve these “planned communities.”
Planned communities are subdivisions any way you look at them, but they are outside the reaches of the various cities. We are a little vague on this part, but subdivisions of small land parcels are not allowed OUTSIDE cities unless they are part of a PLANNED COMMUNITY. Planned communities are nothing more than subdivisions, but they have token requirements which often fail to meet the spirit of the law.
Some examples are offering “space for fire equipment” but not really building a fire station or providing firemen and trucks, building narrow streets in order to crowd more houses per acre, providing substandard water systems. All this is to get qualified as a planned community for the sake of subdividing.
The developers often pay politicians–usually through money laundering “PACS.” They join and enlist the Chamber of Commerce with promises of “economic growth.” They sponsor romantic getaways at Sun Valley where the developers, contractors, bankers, and other “growthoholics” conspire to screw the rest of us under the guise of “smart blueprints for good growth.”
As long as life in California is more miserable and more expensive than Idaho we can expect to line the pockets of those with enough cash to buy our lifestyle. We can’t blame Brad Little for taking the money and running from a vanishing lifestyle, but growth does NOT equate to IMPROVEMENT.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.