The city of Star is about to be bigger by 1,554 acres.
The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday night to annex land on the city's northern edge and allow up to 3,100 homes to be built there someday — though construction might not start for five years and probably will take decades to finish.
Despite the slow roll-out, the project has been controversial in Star, Idaho's most recently incorporated city. Dozens of city residents urged the council Tuesday not to annex the property, at least until the city finishes an update of its comprehensive plan that's already underway.
Niles Nordquist said the city should wait until it develops a long-term vision for Star and its immediate surroundings, and then make sure the project fits that vision before approving it. Like others in Star, Nordquist also worries about water quality and traffic.
The annexation request came from local businessman Dick Phillips, who owns the property and developed Hillsdale Estates, a 1,800-acre housing subdivision to the east. His project is the latest turmoil in Star, where hotly disputed apartment projects led to an unsuccessful attempt last year to recall City Councilman Kevin Nielsen and Mayor Chad Bell.
The newly annexed land is a roughly mile-wide strip north of Purple Sage road, starting about half a mile west of Idaho 16 and extending about 4 miles west to Kingsbury Road.
Phillips' representative Tuesday, former Star Mayor Nate Mitchell, argued that immediate annexation and rezoning of the 1,554 acres was appropriate because Star already has an approved comprehensive plan, and Phillips' project will comply with its update.
Mitchell also pointed out that Tuesday's action does nothing more than bring the acreage into the city and create an entitlement for 3,100 homes. The details of building those homes, designing a street network and locating infrastructure like schools and fire stations will require further planning and public hearings.