In a brilliant act to cut development in the Foothills, Team Dave has apparently seen the light and joined the GUARDIAN GROWTHOPHOBE movement.
Boise City Council Tuesday made public the purchase of Hammer Flat – a 701-acre wintering range for mule deer, elk and antelope in east Boise – using funds generated by the 2001 foothills serial levy. The Mayor and Council approved the $4.1 million expenditure at a special council meeting Tuesday at City Hall and we applaud the purchase.
The back story is more fun. Exact details may never be known, but this is what the rumor mill suggests–based on historical facts:
Seven agencies, Ada County, Boise County, Idaho Dept of Fish and Game, the Idaho Land Board, Boise City, BLM, and the Forest Service, over about 30 years, pieced together the Foothills Policy Plan in 1997. The Foothills Levy, the funding mechanism was passed in 2001. The plan specifically targeted the Hammer Flat area as critical for acquisition to protect wildlife habitat. As late as 2004, Fish and Game tried to purchase Hammer Flat for about $2 million, and was out gunned when the Hammer Flat developer offered about five times that amount.
All of the involved agencies codified the plan, with the exception of Ada County. They approved two Foothills developments.
Avimor was the first, with the initial developer selling out about 5 months ago to another developer for about 20 cents on the dollar. The Cliffs was the second planned community Ada County approved in the foothills, and the second PC to fail.
The Cliffs was a more complicated affair. Having never acquired approval from ITD for an entry road, their entitlement was never completed, and, as of today, they had less than two years remaining on their approval permit, with the economy in the tank. The developer began to tire of multi million dollar interest payments on a project that was looking worse by the day.
In December the developer quit paying their property taxes and are rumored to have quit making interest payments to their lender. Whether this was done for tactical reasons, or because their funds were running short is unknown. Rumors suggest that, also in late December, the developer was marketing the project to anyone who would listen. At least one potential developer contacted ITD about the entry road, and did not like what they heard.
At about the same time, the primary investor in The Cliffs was facing their own fiscal crisis. Rumors suggest the primary investor was attempting to unload the note associated with The Cliffs independent of the developer. The investor won the race by making contact with Boise City (The Foothills Levy is one of the few solid sources of money at this time.)
Having lost out once before, the city/fish and game, were taking no chances this time. Negotiations were very tightly controlled with as few as two people, not including the mayor or council, privy to anything but the most general information, until the deal was in the bag.
The deal was sealed Tuesday in council chambers by unanimous vote. The battle for Hammer Flat is over. The GROWTHOPHOBE fight over development of the foothills continues. Look for Cartwright Ranch, Dry Creek and other PCs in the western foothills to be next on the failure list.
To insure more advertising-free Boise Guardian news, please consider financial support.