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County Commissioners remand Grouse Landing

County Commissioners remand Grouse Landing PUD

This was a tough hearing. Grouse Landing is a 15-lot planned unit development (PUD) that is one of the last remaining PUDs being reviewed under the old 2007 ordinance. The neighbors have written 5 letters in opposition to this project because these 15 lots are located directly in their view corridor, with building envelopes 30-feet apart from each other, and no limit to the size of the homes that may be built on each lot. They also had road access concerns. The access to this project is supposed to be from the South; the developer will need to build about 1,650 feet of road down to 4000N. The problem is that: (1) the road easement itself has still not been surveyed, (2) the engineer’s cost estimate for the project does not clearly earmark funds for building that particular road, and (3) the development agreement does not propose a clear timeline for when this road will be built. The Board should avoid another situation like Driggs Centre (approved back in 2007) where the requisite road improvements were not clearly included in the engineer's cost estimate and development agreement – and hence, remain incomplete to this day.

At the previous hearing, Grouse Landing was recommended for approval on a 3:2 split vote by the P&Z. Those in opposition recommended denial because they did not see any public benefit to this PUD. P&Z did recommend that no guest homes be allowed in the development, which the developer has now requested the County Commissioners set aside.

VARD urged the Commissioners to look at how grossly overdeveloped the immediately surrounding area is, and how this has contributed to community blight. There are 25 developments with 1-square mile of this proposal, and after 30-years of platting, this area is only 19% built out. Projects approved in the last 10 years are only 3% built out. In the four projects approved since 2007, there is 0% built out – absolutely no homes. Click here to see the statistics.

This particular PUD is not offering the kind of amenities that will offset the harms created by approving yet another defunct development in this corner of the valley. In addition, as homes are built here and there in these developments, they have proven to diminish our level of public services.

Kathy Rinaldi was extremely concerned by the potential of this project to fail, creating additional blight in the area. She also wanted to see further clarification on the road issues and recommendations by P&Z. Larry Young argued that Idaho law would not allow the county to deny a project simply because of the overdevelopment in the area and the lack of demand for the lots. We disagree. There is absolutely no Idaho case law supporting Mr. Young’s position, and given the incredibly grim statistics for this area, it is incumbent that the Board uses its current knowledge of trickle-down development impacts when considering the cost/benefits of a particular project. While this exact legal issue remains untested in Idaho, there is no question that the discretion afforded to the Board of County Commissioners is broad, and the overdevelopment in this area has reached unprecedented and costly proportions.

This leaves one critical question for our community at large: Where there is ambiguity in the law, do we want our elected officials to permit projects whose harms outweigh their benefits? Or, do we expect them to consider the market feasibility of a project and its trickle down impacts when approving a development? 

After much deliberation, the Board remanded this project back to P&Z for further clarification of their recommendations. Chairman Young voted against this remand.

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