The following is a self-described rant by Activist Tony Jones after attending the Ada County Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. His report:
“Some people think the reason roads, air, and water are deteriorating in this county, and taxes are increasing, is a big complicated subject. It may be as simple as one word: Messy.
Last night, the Ada County P&Z Commission heard Avimor’s application for phases two through six of their development in the foothills north of town along Highway 55. If approved, Avimor will have the right to put a combined total of about 1000 houses along Highway 55. That works out to about 2500 people in the subdivision and about 10,000 additional car trips per day on 55.
There are several problems with Avimor’s application. The most pressing are the perennial stumbling blocks of water and traffic.
Recently, the Idaho Public Utilities Commission denied United Water’s application to serve Avimor beyond Phase 1. The reason for the denial was that United Water is out of…..well, water.
On the traffic front, Avimor and Idaho Transportation department are sufficiently far from agreement on the design of an entrance road that, prior to the hearing, ITD sent Ada County a letter reminding the county that the problem is still unresolved.
Water supply and traffic issues are supposed to be resolved, BEFORE the county even accepts, let alone considers approving, an application. More to the point, workable solutions to both the water and traffic problems were supposed to be presented, in detail, and in writing, almost TWO YEARS AGO!
At the hearing, Commissioners Edgar and Tomkinson repeatedly assailed the applicant and development services staff with questions about the project’s many failings.
However, Frank Martin, the chair of the meeting, came to the applicant’s defense and dug in like a badger. . (Frank is also a real estate developer. His most recent project is the planned community called Hidden Springs in the foothills northwest of Boise.)
Even though life as we know it is impossible without water, and the valley’s supply is finite, Frank was unfazed. He didn’t think Avimor’s lack of water supply was a big deal.
And, totally ignoring his duty to make sure infrastructure problems such as roads are resolved before an application is allowed to proceed, Frank felt that Avimor’s self caused infrastructure problems are such a complex MESS that it would be unfair to hold it against them.
In English, Frank doesn’t think Avimor should have to fix Avimor’s own problems!
And that, my friends, is as close to the root cause of our urban sprawl as I have seen. The valley’s air, water, and traffic are deteriorating at a rapid rate. It is happening because decision makers like Frank Martin think problems such as Avimor’s, and by extension Treasure Valley’s, are just too “messy” to deal with.
Coming back to one of the main points posted to the Commish Edgar Moratorium story, many of the sprawl related problems around this valley could be managed if our “leaders” would simply enforce existing planning related rules, goals, policies, and ordinances. In this case, they need to enforce referenced policies of the Comp Plan that validate the Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and requires infrastructure problems to be resolved BEFORE an application is accepted.
Postscript: Commissioner Hayes recused himself from voting for undisclosed reasons. Commissioner Aitken, meek as a lamb, voted with Martin. With four commissioners voting, the score was 2 for and 2 against. The application is tabled until August 9, 2007 at 6:00 pm at the Ada County Court House on Front Street in Boise when the other two (absent) commissioners, Ostolasa and Terteling, get a chance to cast their votes.”
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