Two years ago, my family’s company, Boise Hunter Homes, purchased hundreds of acres in northern Ada County, embarking on a journey to reimagine Dry Creek Ranch. Our complete revamp of the previous developer’s blueprints has been guided by the need to build responsibly, in a way that honors the landscape and its heritage.
We are proud of our plans for Dry Creek Ranch, which is why we believe it’s critical to respond to an Idaho Statesman front-page story (Jan. 7), which emphasized baseless legal challenges at the expense of glossing over the many positive aspects of the project.
In setting the record straight, it’s essential to understand how we’ve drastically scaled back the original plans for Dry Creek Ranch, located on infill acreage between Hidden Springs and Idaho 55, just south of the Shadow Valley Golf Course.
Amid the housing boom more than a decade ago, a Texas-based pension fund proposed and earned approval for a dense, oversized project jammed with 3,500 residential units, four schools and a sprawling commercial space rivaling The Village at Meridian.
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If not for the economic recession, we can all agree that today’s Dry Creek area would have a different complexion and impose wholly different impacts on the area.
Our scaled-back plans represent a more responsible, open space-friendly approach. We’ve cut the density by more than half and eliminated almost 90 percent of the commercial development. The county approved amendments to the initial ordinance, calling for 1,800 homes, 85,000 square feet of commercial space and a single school, with a quarter of the project dedicated to half-acre to 1-acre lots — a step specifically designed to cater to horse ownership and equestrian facilities. We’ve also reduced average daily vehicle trips by 70 percent.
Dry Creek Ranch will include 467 acres of open space, including 359 acres of natural open space, equal to 33 percent of the overall acreage and triple the typical requirement of just 10 percent in most jurisdictions. Our wildlife mitigation plan will generate more than $3 million for conservation easement acquisition and preservation activities near Dry Creek Ranch and beyond. Boise Hunter Homes is providing seed money for this fund, which will then grow with revenue collected annually from homeowners and fees paid on each home sale.
We’re also investing in private water and wastewater systems that will alleviate legitimate taxpayer concerns about the impact new housing has on existing infrastructure. Dry Creek’s agricultural tradition will be honored by setting aside land for small-scale farming, bringing home the farm-to-table element so many Idahoans find appealing.
I know developments are rarely unopposed and ours is no exception. Nevertheless, we remain committed to building homes responsibly at Dry Creek Ranch, creating a community that is in greater harmony with the land, its history, wildlife, and the goals of those charged with planning and approving land use in Ada County.
Travis Hunter is co-owner of Boise Hunter Homes.