Dorey writes of the Tuesday approval by Boise City Council to override the Planning Commission and approve a 70 home development in the foothills, less than a month after the levy election to provide “open space” was approved by voters.
By Michale Dorey
Our “at large” City Council” in Boise made an incredible reversal of its own P&Z commission as a finale to events that have unfolded. Here is my take on what happened.
In the City Council chambers, the large monitors have a screen saver which is a telephoto image of the Boise skyline against a seemingly endless open foothills backdrop. This week the City Council took yet another step toward filling that central foothills landscape with densely packed housing by approving, against a mountain of contrary evidence, an ill conceived, and hazardous development. This one has 70 homes.
The developer, appealing to the City Council, the P&Z unanimous denial of that development, did not present facts to support the development so much as market the project with half-truths and spin which was revealed in further testimony. In a stunning rebuke to to the City’s own Planning and Zoning Commission, and going against historical rulings by this same body, the documented mistakes of law and the advice of two of the City’s own Neighborhood Associations, and credible testimony given by dozens of residents, the council turned a deaf ear and approved the development in what appeared to be a foregone conclusion.
The meeting was an appeal by the developer, of a denial of his development, so the onus should have been on him to prove it’s value. Instead, citizens of Boise were treated as if it were up to them to re-prove their case. In fact nothing they said could have made any difference. The City Council scapegoated their own P&Z Commissioners by attempting to blame them for not adding “findings” to their decision.
Although 1600 pages of documents and testimony demonstrated clear evidence of findings as did the P&Z commission’s oral conclusions which were part of the record. Scores of residents turned out to support the P&Z’s unanimous decision to deny the development and after 5 hours of testimony the rationale of the City Council for opposing it’s own P&Z commission boiled down to. “Sorry, we can’t do anything because its zoned already”.
They summarily ignored almost all the opposing testimony and concluded with a shocking level of condescension and caviler behavior. As each member voted for the development they actually listed the reasons why it shouldn’t occur. Also two commissioners essentially said that they had to put up with growth in their areas so the the foothills residents also must. The appointed commission, the record, and the residents were not heard by the council.
The large crowd of people left disillusioned with the rhetoric of “community involvement in the livable city” and were further alienated by the people they elected. The conclusion from this strikingly one-sided public process is that ordinary citizens, residents, taxpayers of Boise have absolutely no say in the future of their neighborhoods when it comes to the steam roller of development And if the City Council has any authority at all, they are seemingly afraid to use it.
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