EDITOR NOTE: In a meeting July 1, the ACHD commishes changed directions on last week’s street decision. They voted to reconsider the June 24 action as requested by BSU. An insider tells us that doesn’t mean the vote is likely to change and the matter “starts from scratch.”
Seems that Boise State University officials won’t take NO for an answer when it comes to depriving citizens and motorists from using four City streets near the campus.
On June 24 the Ada County Highway District commissioners in a video (zoom) meeting voted 3-2 to deny a request from BSU for “Vacation (closure) of public rights-of-way for a portion of West Belmont Street, South Vermont Avenue, South Manitou Avenue, South Grant Avenue and the alley right-of-way located in Blocks 13, 19 and 22 of South Boise First Subdivision.”
A letter was sent to the ACHD yesterday asking for reconsideration of the denial by the elected board, claiming that since no one appeared at the meeting in opposition to the proposed closing the board erred.
For the BSU letter click here
for the entire letter.
Re: Request for Reconsideration of Resolution 2306 (Vacation of public rights-of-way for a portion of West Belmont Street, South Vermont Avenue, South Manitou Avenue, South Grant Avenue and the alley right-of-way located in Blocks 13, 19 and 22 of South Boise First Subdivision (Boise State University/Idaho State Board of Education).
Dear Director Wong,
On June 24, 2020, despite Ada County Highway District (ACHD) Commission staff recommending approval, the Commission voted not to adopt Resolution 2306 (described above). As a result of errors of fact and/or law and in accordance with ACHD procedures (1006.11 Reconsideration), please accept this request for the Commission to reconsider its June 24, 2020 vote related to Resolution 2306, and return the matter to ACHD staff for further review, and a new hearing.
In error, the Commission failed to consider the fact that no member of the public testified about a need to use and travel over the rights-of-way. Idaho Code § 67-2322 provides that a vacation determination may be made when it is in the best interest of the public, yet no member of the public expressed the need to travel over the to-be-vacated rights-of-way. In stark contrast, Jefferson Street was vacated by the Commission after more than fifty members of the public expressed an interest in traveling the street.
Also in error, the Commission failed to consider adequately those matters and documents and processes quite relevant and considered matters not relevant – namely the City’s master planning processes.
The petition and application for vacation of rights of way is directly associated with the September 1, 2010Right of Way Vacation and Property Exchange Agreement, as addended by a First Addendum on July 3, 2019 (together, the “Agreement”).
As part of the Agreement, ACHD and the University (on behalf of the State of Idaho, which holds all of Boise State’s real property) would exchange properties, with ACHD vacating the streets and alleys in the South Campus expansion area and deeding the same to the State of Idaho as the adjacent property owner, and the State dedicating 16 feet of State of Idaho property to ACHD for the entire length of Beacon Street. While the properties subject to the exchange both had, and have, significant value, the two public entities agreed to these terms in the public’s interest, and agreed to exchange the same with no monetary compensation. The agreement anticipated the street and alley vacations to the University at no cost, with the University agreeing to make additional certain pedestrian and roadway improvements and dedicate right-of-way on Beacon Street.
The original agreement posed no deadline for the easement over Boise State property on Beacon; ACHD staff requested an addendum with a deadline for this transaction and the transfer of property by easement by no later than August 31, 2019; this action was completed, as described further, below.
Neither the Agreement, nor the background and context for the vacation request, including ACHD Resolutions 954 (8/6/2010) and 2205 (10/25/2017) (and as modified by the Addendum) were contained in the Commission’s packet, nor were they provided the deference or consideration they were clearly due. No fact contained in the Commission’s packet highlighted the history and protracted negotiation leading up to this hearing and decision.
Boise State, doing its part in accordance with the Agreement, finally acquired all of the Beacon Street properties in the summer of 2019 so that it could complete the largest part of its obligation. In fact, the Executive Director for the Board of Education confirmed that no additional approval of the 16 foot easement was necessary by the Board because the Board had approved that action being taken in 2010. To date, Boise State has complied with the Agreement by providing a permanent ACHD easement for 16 feet of State of Idaho property. Denial of the vacation request benefitting Boise State results in a lopsided commercial transaction between two public entities, unjustly enriching a political subdivision of the State of Idaho to the detriment of the State of Idaho itself.
Further, and in error, the Commission identified and relied heavily upon the University’s withdrawal of the master plan update with the City of Boise, creating an unnecessary and ill-conceived link between a municipal process and the fulfillment of terms of the Agreement. The Commission’s focus should have been on the six separate development scenarios provided in the Master Circulation Plan, not the details included in the City of Boise process. It is this comprehensive Master Circulation Plan that is specifically referenced in the Agreement, not a city master planning process.
Commissioners expressed dissatisfaction with the status of Beacon Street. Boise State has fulfilled its contractual obligations to empower ACHD to improve Beacon Street, if it so chooses beyond what is already required of the University in the Agreement. Failures or dissatisfaction with planning for Beacon should become part of the internal review of the status of Beacon at ACHD, and not considered as part of the University’s application.
Commissioners challenged the legitimacy of the Traffic Study due to the review stopping at Broadway Avenue and Beacon Street. This study scope was intentional and the thoughtful product of consultation with ACHD staff and the City of Boise Planning and Development Services staff.
Ten years after the execution of the Agreement, with the last few years soliciting ACHD staff and Commission direction for proceeding with the vacation request (and a year after the Agreement was addended with an easement deadline for ACHD’s benefit), at least one commissioner stated that it appears Boise State “isn’t ready” for this request and should return when it is ready, contradicting statements made at the Jan. 24, 2018 hearing directing Boise State to return with updated traffic data which would show various buildout scenarios for the campus. The Traffic Impact Study accounts for those various buildout scenarios. The study provided ample opportunities to analyze this portion of campus and the effects that different buildout scenarios might bring, and was not considered or given due deference by the Commission.
The Agreement includes no requirement for a campus development plan to be approved by the Commission, only a Master Circulation Plan. To require the same is outside the terms of the Agreement, as stated above, and if taken to its extreme, study after study would be required, each time campus development occurs, with no real progress made on vacating streets and alleys. This contradicts the Commission’s direction to provide a comprehensive traffic study for the area and return with a single application for the vacation.
The Commission’s reliance on the withdrawal of the Master Plan with the City of Boise is not a consideration in law, policy, or the Exchange Agreement. The vote by the Commission inappropriately relied on this fact in denying the vacation request.
Our hearing should have considered the parameters of the Agreement, with clear expectations and the understanding that vacation requests would be reviewed alongside professional data and analysis, as appropriately requested by the Commission. Instead, a) that same professional analysis wasn’t available to the Commission, and b) Boise State’s request was inappropriately “bundled” with a separate process being conducted by a separate agency, Boise City.
Ultimately, the Commission failed to adequately consider the Agreement’s exchange and unfairly and inappropriately considered factors like the master plan at City Hall to deny the request. The result is the benefit of a bargain to ACHD and unjust enrichment, to the University’s detriment.
As a result of the foregoing, Boise State respectfully requests reconsideration of the vote regarding Resolution 2306, and a return of the matter to ACHD staff for further review, and a new hearing.
Vice President for Campus Operations/COO
Boise State University
1910 University Dr.
Boise, ID 83725-1360
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