By NILES NORDQUIST,
“What is the rush?”
The City of Star is in the middle of very important decisions regarding the future of the City, Northwest Ada County, and Northeast Canyon County. A proposed annexation and zoning of a 1500 acre development by Willowbrook has brought hundreds of people to public meetings. For this development to proceed, a change in Star’s Comprehensive Plan must occur.
An application to simultaneously expand Star’s Impact Area, annex the Willowbrook land, and rezone the land to R-2 (2 units per acre) in one action on January 17, 2018 was made. The Star City Council tabled consideration until May 1, 2018 to gain more time to study the development and examine their Comprehensive Plan.
In February, planning and traffic consultants were hired by the City to study and propose an amendment to the Star Comprehensive Plan. On March 27, the planner and a traffic engineer presented a new boundary adding more than 10,000 acres (1,500 of which inappropriately includes public BLM land) with densities of 2-4 units per acre to the City planning area without input from any of the residents in the area. In addition, the traffic pattern was shown with possible flow through designated Conservation and Habitat areas, and ignored the current regional Compass transportation plan.
The planner explained that his direction came from the Mayor to use the Willowbrook annexation area as a guide. No analysis leading to either the new boundary or the proposed traffic circulation was presented. The plan was presented to attendees for a reaction and not their actual input. This is not planning. This is following instructions.
With a land area of approximately 10,000 acres, at densities ranging from 2-4 units per acre, the proposed amendment has the potential to add 50,000 – 100,000 new residents and potentially hundreds of thousands of trips per day to the City of Star. This is more than a 900% increase in the population of Star. No study of water resources has been made. A system capacity analysis including the potential costs of providing services has not been made.
Traffic agencies, ACHD and IDT, have responded to Star that they cannot comment on the proposed annexation without a Traffic Impact Study. And, they have stated that there is no current funding for improvements to HWY 44 and HWY 16. No traffic study has been conducted.
Meridian and Eagle have spent years in the revisions to their Comprehensive Plans involving the public impacted by the proposals. Star has spent less than 40 days with a directive.
The primary interested parties have not opposed the concept of Willowbrook development, but rather asked for intelligent study and design that complies with consistently held and reasonable standards in the Treasure Valley.
On April 19th the City of Star will hear and consider the proposed amendment to the Comprehensive Plan at the LifeSprings Church, 174 N. Star Rd. in Star. This amendment is incomplete and unstudied. A constant theme in the public comments in both January and March has been “What is the rush?” This is not just an “amendment.” It deserves the time, attention, analysis, and public participation of a true and professional comprehensive planning process. These decisions are too important.
As always, the GUARDIAN welcomes comments and will offer space to those with opposing views.
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