Another Growthophobe Victory

It looks like the GROWTHOPHOBE movement is gaining some more traction as citizens work to put the brakes on foothills development.

Here is a press release from a group opposed to development in Dry Creek northwest of Boise near Avimor. Interesting to see court rule in favor of citizens.

The Dry Creek Valley Coalition, a community-driven organization working to protect and preserve the Dry Creek Valley and the Boise Foothills, prevailed Wednesday, December 13, 2017 when District Judge Jonathan Medema ordered Ada County Clerk Christopher D. Rich to file the group’s initial petition for referendum.

“I am pleased that the Ada County District Court applied the law and upheld the independence of the Clerk’s office,” said Brian Ertz, attorney for the coalition.

The Dry Creek Valley Coalition submitted their initial petition for referendum to the Ada County Clerk’s office in May 2017. Clerk Rich refused to file the petition. The Dry Creek Valley Coalition was forced to ask the court to compel the clerk to file the petition.

In February 2017, despite opposition from community members, businesses, and organizations, the Board of Ada County Commissioners voted to approve an 1,800 home subdivision proposed by Boise Hunter Homes.

“Boise Hunter Homes has successfully used its economic might and threat of litigation to bully Ada County Development Services and the Ada County Board of County Commissioners to approve an unpopular, god-awful development in Boise’s beloved foothills,” said Ertz.

The Dry Creek Valley Coalition seeks utilize the referendum process to allow registered voters to repeal or accept Ordinance 864, an ordinance governing the development of the proposed subdivision.

“We chose to pursue the referendum because we believe the community was deprived of the opportunity to have their voices heard and valued in any meaningful way throughout this process. No one I’ve spoken with wants more houses in the Foothills. The Dry Creek Valley is an incredible place and this subdivision is the epitome of irresponsible development. It will destroy 1,400 acres of prime farmland, open space, and wildlife habitat. Once this land is gone, it is gone for good,” said Stephanie Rael, a member of the coalition.

The Dry Creek Valley Coalition says Clerk Rich’s failure to perform his ministerial duty is a symptom of a larger, more systemic problem in the way business is conducted in Ada County’s current administration.

“If everything was functioning as it should in Ada County, this lawsuit would never have happened. No court should have to compel a clerk to file paperwork that fulfills all of the technical requirements found in Ada County Code. The clerk should do that on his own. The fact that he did not is very alarming,” said Rael.

The Board of Ada County Commissioners and the developer, Boise Hunter Homes, worked in tandem in the lawsuit, asking the court to prohibit Clerk Rich from filing the petition. Judge Medema denied their request for a writ of prohibition.

“While we have a long way to go, we are relieved and encouraged that in this particular instance, justice prevailed,” said Rael.

Brian Ertz
Attorney at Law
(208) 918-1663
[email protected]

Stephanie Rael
Dry Creek Valley Coalition
(208) 908-8206

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Go Doug Jones
    Dec 14, 2017, 4:05 pm

    Congrats Ertz and the people.

  2. Kent Goldthorpe
    Dec 14, 2017, 4:09 pm

    Well, so much for property rights.

  3. Not ‘private property rights’; legal rights of citizens vs overbearing political hacks.

    Kent Goldthorpe is overbearing and self-serving.

  4. From the press release: … this subdivision is the epitome of irresponsible development. It will destroy 1,400 acres of prime farmland, open space, and wildlife habitat.

    The acreage has varied from development to development, but that same thing could be said of HUNDREDS of subdivisions that have gone in over the past 50 years or so across our valley and in our foothills. That’s the price of progress… right?

  5. clippityclop
    Dec 14, 2017, 9:34 pm

    This valley is the jewel of the foothills, prime agricultural ground and critical winter range for elk herds. Paving it over is a travesty. Not to mention the road congestion that would ensue. This land needs to hear the voice of the people. Speak for it. Let your voices be heard.

  6. And who pays for infrastructure? If we do then we should have a say. And if memory serves me I believe I heard that one of these developments wanted to pipe water all the way from Grimes Creek or some such nonsense a few years back. I missed any follow up or maybe that idea is still on the table and no one is ” mentioning it”.

  7. Agree with Westernguy. This is not a “private property rights” issue or post. Also agree ACHD is full of overbearing political hacks and employees.

    It is also not a “victory” for growthophobes. Just a procedural clarification.

    The ISSUE
    Ada County Clerk Christopher D. Rich did not WANT to file the group’s petition for referendum based on his opinion.
    That has nothing to do with property right or smart growth.
    It has to do with govt employees ignoring “what is right”. But then that seems to be common for too many local government officials and employees.

    The terrible part is, once again, a government employee, board, commission or official FORCES citizens to incur the cost and efforts of lawsuit in order to access democracy.
    The judge said, ‘citizens prevail’.

  8. Usually, P&Z decisions are not subject to referendum.

    EDITOR NOTE–As I tried to explain to Boise City before they lost in the Idaho Supreme Court on the 10 Commandments tablet move, the issue is the REFERENDUM, not the P&Z decision. Local government does not have the luxury of deciding which referendum they choose to consider. If enough signatures are gathered, it goes on the ballot. THEN the issue is “ripe for adjudication.” City and County legal staffs forget it is THE PEOPLE who are in charge. Much more at stake here than just a development!

  9. If you have ever followed the sovereign citizen movement you see they act almost like our elected officials do. They pick and choose which laws to obey and which ones are an inconvenience and ignore them.

    If there was ever any doubt as to the commissioners ignoring the will of the people over monied interests this is a prime example of that failure to serve the people and serve the money. Now is the time to vote them out.

  10. My point is that a zoning decision is not subject legally to the referendum. There is a distinction when a board is acting in a legislative capacity, a comp plan ordnance, or quasi-judicial, granting a variance. The former is subject to referendum process, the latter is not. Need more info on this.

  11. clippityclop
    Dec 18, 2017, 6:52 am

    Judge Medema didn’t see it that way and if this citizens’ right to petition is appealed, you’ll get the same answer. Onward with the petition for referendum. This is a far bigger issue than you realize, and the judge gets it.

  12. I see it now. The petition has to be accepted and judged as to conformance with the required signatures. Then the petitioners have time to gather the additional signatures to qualify it for the ballot. If this steep hill is climbed, the matter is placed on the ballot, and if passed, the court will then have the chance to rule on its legality. A ballot measure can be totally unconstitutional and yet can be placed on the ballot and voted up or down. Only then will a court rule on the merits. (the legislature does this all the time with its legislative power, why not the public!)

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