Bellevue executives split on opening Main Street to apartment buildings | Nice view


City leaders are considering changing city laws that would allow buildings much larger than the Silver Creek Hotel along Main Street for housing units.

The Town of Bellevue is set to make sweeping changes to city laws that would allow a proliferation of new apartment buildings on Main Street between Cedar and Chestnut Streets – the entire length of the original townsite of Bellevue – with units as small as 350 square feet in size.

City leaders also appear to be on the verge of enacting changes to the city code that would increase the size of permitted buildings from 28,000 to 36,000 square feet without a conditional use permit and open up all original residential areas. of the townsite for the construction of duplexes on lots of 3,000 square feet.

The stated objective of these proposals is to create housing for the inhabitants, but the approach is not without hindsight. Bellevue city council reviewed the proposed changes on Monday, each of which had been approved in a similar form by the Bellevue Planning and Zoning Commission in recent months. This week’s presentation revealed strong differences among council members over the changes that could shape the city for many years to come.

The board will wait a month before putting the measures to a vote, however, as members solicit public input on the proposals and iron out the differences between them.

“It’s a lot at the same time,” said City Council President Kathryn Goldman. “I need time to digest the scope of this, and we owe it to the people to allow more input from the public.”

“I don’t believe for a second that Bellevue should compensate for the housing shortage in the service sector in the valley,” said Councilor Greg Cappel. “Why the hell would we want buildings the size of Albertson to appear wherever they can?” (Albertsons in Hailey measures approximately 36,000 square feet.)

Cappel said the proposals would jeopardize the city’s “small mountain town feeling” adopted in its comprehensive plan and expose the city to “predatory” business interests.

City Councilor Chris Johnson said he would support commercial buildings over 36,000 square feet under the right conditions, such as a Smith Optics office.

Councilor Doug Brown has said he will support any proposed changes.

“If you don’t put more houses on the square footage than you have, there’s nothing you can do about housing,” Brown said.

Mayor Ned Burns said he has been working with Director of Community Development Diane Shay for some time to make the changes, which would include removing the requirement that duplex buildings only be constructed by agencies. affordable housing, which Burns said was “discriminatory”.

“It’s not discriminatory, it’s an opportunity,” Cappel said. Such agencies have the ability to prevent local housing projects from becoming short-term vacation rentals, as the ARCH Community Housing Trust did in Hailey on River and Main streets. The city itself has no way of restricting the use of new developments for short-term Airbnb-type rentals.

“Just building a bunch of tiny apartments without regulating them anyway to stay in the long-term housing market will do nothing to help the local housing crisis or to keep Bellevue residents or our economy strong,” Evan wrote. Lister, resident of the Chantrelle subdivision. Stelma, who worked on a revision of the city’s comprehensive plan years ago in anticipation of an annexation of the Eccles Flying Hat Ranch south of the city, which never materialized.

“Taking whatever has been achieved with consensus and community input and now throwing in the protections, doesn’t make any sense at all,” Stelma said.

Architect Jolyon Sawrey said he was in favor of expanding the proposed map of the overlaid residential neighborhood to include a plot of property at the southern end of town, where he hopes to build residential units.

“I am 100% in favor of everything Diane Shay suggests,” Sawrey said. “I am at a stage where I want to grow and I need employees. “

Shay said the staff proposed changes to create an overlay district in the city center were due to the mayor’s request to create a high-density zoning district was not feasible.

“We just don’t have the land for it,” Shay said.

Proposals discussed on Monday, and likely to be voted on, include removing a process to review large-scale developments required for buildings over 28,000 square feet. Shay said the process was “cumbersome” and “extremely expensive” for developers. The process would require large-scale projects to go through a community-based public process, which Shay says discouraged two developers from coming to Bellevue.

Shay didn’t want to reveal who the developers were.

“I don’t have the freedom to say it,” she said on Monday.

After much discussion and debate, Burns asked staff to draft a clearer map of the residential neighborhood for review in a continuing public hearing on November 8, as well as an extension of the map to include the properties on Main Street. south of Chestnut Street.

Council and the mayor have agreed to support a standard conditional use permit for buildings over 36,000 square feet, but will wait until Nov. 22 to vote on a written ordinance change.

City Councilor Shaun Mahoney said the city’s rewrite of its comprehensive plan and other changes in response to possible big box stores 13 years ago as part of a plan to annex Eccles was unwarranted.

“It was just fear,” he said.

In other Bellevue news, City Council:

• Approval of a $ 3,000 contract with Galena Engineering for Chestnut Well for chlorination engineering, $ 3,216 in expenses for radios, $ 5,639 in response equipment and additional maintenance expenses for the fire department.

• Approved additional items for its wastewater planning study with a grant application package, which will cost the city approximately $ 5,000.

• Approval of an expenditure of $ 109,460 for 50 Zeeweed 500d membranes, $ 26,580 for OBIC coatings for four lifting stations and a skylight repair of $ 6,867, all for the installation of sewage treatment.

• Approval of a semi-annual payment on a DEQ loan of $ 205,200, leaving a loan balance of $ 3,180,145.89 for the sewer plant.

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