January 23, 2008 in City

Hayden to reconsider development

Erica F. Curless Staff writer
 

Two years after it was shot down by Hayden’s planning and zoning commission, the 1,800-home Hayden Canyon project is back – but this time, Hayden is better prepared to consider it, a city official says.

During the two-year hiatus of the proposed development, Hayden has revised its growth plan and mapped out plans for sewer expansion, transportation and parks.

The city still must decide whether it’s ready for such a project, which could expand Hayden’s population by more than one-third. But Community Development Director Lisa Key said Hayden now has strategic plans in place to help make a better decision.

The developer, Hayden Canyon Land LLC, submitted a new annexation request in September and has been meeting with city officials and other agencies, such as the school district and highway district. No public hearing is expected until spring.

This time around, Hayden Canyon has new ownership, a premier publicity firm and a near-identical plan that puts more emphasis on affordable housing for working families.

If approved, the annexation would bring the 618-acre site off Lancaster Road into city limits.

Some neighbors remain opposed to the high-profile project, which drew hundreds of objectors in 2005 and a unanimous recommendation by the planning and zoning commission to deny changing the city’s comprehensive plan or annexing the property. The commission said Hayden wasn’t prepared for such a development on its outer edge and that the new homes could stress local streets, schools and sewers.

Hayden put all annexation requests, including Hayden Canyon, on hold for nearly a year to look at the entire city and its likely growth areas in an effort to manage planning. Key said the delay was critical for the rapidly growing town, where the population could surge to 22,150 people – a 67 percent increase – with just the seven pending annexations at the end of 2006.

The city again is considering annexations now that it has completed the transportation plan and a sewer master plan that shows where sewer pipes and lift stations are needed for the town to grow beyond its border.

With the changes, Hayden Canyon no longer must ask for a comprehensive plan amendment in addition to annexation.

If the City Council agrees to annex Hayden Canyon, which is bisected by a large basalt canyon and seasonal streams, the developers must meet requirements before they are allowed to build their desired three homes per acre.

To get that density, the developers would have to first ensure there is a controlled intersection, with lights or an overpass, at Lancaster Road and U.S. Highway 95. They also have to prove the project would have adequate public space and parks, and that houses are clustered to leave more green space. There are also bonuses for having a mix of house types, including affordable homes among higher-prices houses.

“This is the design our community has envisioned as part of the comprehensive plan process,” Key said. “We value these things and are willing to offer the opportunity for higher density, if you are willing to promote these design features.”

The developers say the project easily will meet those goals, and they claim Hayden Canyon is the best type of growth for Hayden.

Hayden Canyon touts its “smart growth” principles that would create a community of varying housing types where people can live, work and play without dependency on cars or contributing to sprawl.

“This is not a gated community and it’s accessible for everyone,” said Glen Lanker who, along with his Spokane-based architecture firm Artios, remains an owner. “We want to preserve the canyon for all time and make it accessible for everyone rather than have it exclusive or turn it into a golf course.”

American Land Fund, a private Philadelphia-based real estate acquisition fund, is a new owner in the project. A previous partner, Stonehill Investments of Hayden, is no longer associated with the property.

After the planning commission initially recommended denial, the developers hired the Gallatin Group public relations firm.

Lanker is meeting with civic groups to tout the project and will go door-to-door in neighborhoods surrounding the property.

The plan for offering affordable housing and keeping the homes reasonably priced in perpetuity is also key, Lanker said. Hayden Canyon would donate the land for those homes to a trust, so buyers would pay only for the house itself.

Neighbor Ken Dorris hasn’t reviewed the new application but still doesn’t like the idea of such a large village development. Dorris would like to see a smaller-scale project done first.

“I don’t think 1,800 units is really a model,” he said.


Thoughts and opinions on this story? Click here to comment >>

Get stories like this in a free daily email