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Nov 17, 2014 Huntsman Springs Comment Letter

November 17, 2014

City of Driggs Planning & Zoning Commission

60 North Main Street

Driggs, Idaho 83422

Re: Comments on Huntsman Springs Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Amendments

Dear Members of the Planning & Zoning Commission:

We offer our comments as a means to facilitate the needed dialogue for a proposal that will have an enormous effect upon our community for decades to come. It is our intent to contribute community discourse and to provide a forum in which key community issues are given proper consideration.

To this end, we have fielded a community survey in order to grasp public concerns about the proposed amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning amendments. These actions are not to be taken lightly. As such, we hope that the survey results will provide some clarity about what issues should be addressed in your review. It has become apparent to us that more time is needed for the community to review this proposal. The implications are massive. A few extra weeks of review are insignificant in the context of a proposal that will have years of lasting impacts. We recommend the P&Z Commission allow at least one more public hearing in order to ensure an adequate public review. In the meantime, we offer these key findings from our survey:

  • In the course of one weekend, we have received over 80 responses with many detailed comments. It is clear that community concern for these changes to the City’s Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance is widespread and that the public has many, many unanswered questions.
  • Only 25% of respondents indicated they have enough information to formulate comments. The public desire for more information about the project is overwhelming. In particular, more visualization of the project is desired by more than half of respondents in order to understand a project that will likely have significant visual impacts.
  • There is widespread concern about the cannibalization of Downtown businesses. Only 25% of respondents approve of the “village retail” shopping area, and there is significant concern about commercial uses within the hotel and in the Excursion Center. Comments submitted clearly indicate that many feel that the community investment in Downtown businesses will be adversely affected by the commercial uses proposed.
  • Proposed building heights are of concern, however there is reason to believe that additional visualization may assuage concerns about height and scale. More information is needed in order to understand the relationship of the proposed buildings to the surrounding environment. It is clear from survey comments that the community is willing to be accommodating to the applicant’s desires so long as adequate visualization and visual impact mitigation is provided.
  • The desire for beautification around the Courthouse is nearly universal. Only 1% of respondents indicated that no beautification is needed. It is clear that the applicant, in the course of negotiating new development approvals, must address the unsightliness at the south end of the development.

Again, we offer these survey results as a means to facilitate a productive dialogue about the proposed Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Amendments. However, we are concerned with the breakneck pace in which these amendments are being considered. Rushing through the process serves no one well, as evidenced by the procedural errors found in the City’s first, hasty attempt to approve the project. The community deserves to have a say in its future, and the developer, we believe, is benefitted by having the backing of the public and its entitlements secure.

Here are the full survey results as well as our previous comments for your consideration. Please consider the long-term impacts of the Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Amendments and continue the public hearing to a later date in order to obtain adequate public comment on the proposed development.

Respectfully,


Shawn W. Hill

Executive Director

Valley Advocates for Responsible Development

 

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