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This 1,800-home development is underway, even as a petition to stop it lurks

This monument announces the coming of Dry Creek Ranch, an 1,800-home project in the Foohills northeast of Eagle. The monument is at the corner of State Highway 55 and Brookside Lane three miles north of State Street. Boise Hunter Homes says it is within two months of laying foundations on the project’s 96-home first phase.
This monument announces the coming of Dry Creek Ranch, an 1,800-home project in the Foohills northeast of Eagle. The monument is at the corner of State Highway 55 and Brookside Lane three miles north of State Street. Boise Hunter Homes says it is within two months of laying foundations on the project’s 96-home first phase.

Boise Hunter Homes is laying the groundwork for its 1,800-home Dry Creek Ranch development, unfazed by dozens of volunteers’ efforts to stop it through a citizen referendum.

The developer hopes to start laying foundations within two months in Dry Creek’s first phase, co-owner Travis Hunter said. Boise Hunter Homes will build 24 of the 96 homes in the first phase, whose homes will be located east of State Highway 55 and south of the Shadow Valley Golf Course in the Foothills northeast of Eagle. Seven other companies will build the 72 additional homes, he said.

Most of Boise Hunter Homes’ houses will measure between 2,000 and 4,000 square feet, on lots two-fifths of an acre, Hunter said. They will be listed for $400,000 to $650,000.

Already, the company has built a sewer plant that will serve all of Dry Creek, Hunter said. It is paving streets and has graded lots and installed utility lines, curbs, gutters, sidewalks and initial landscaping. It has signed an agreement with the Eagle Fire Department to provide fire protection and donated land for a future fire station.

Meanwhile, as many as 100 volunteers have spent almost six months gathering signatures on a petition that seeks to give voters a chance to overturn the Ada County ordinance that entitles Boise Hunter Homes to build Dry Creek Ranch. They need more than 40,000 signatures before the end of July to put the measure on the ballot.

Stephanie Rael, a Boise woman who is spearheading the petition effort, declined to say how many signatures volunteers have collected. “I believe we can do it,” she said.

Even if the drive fails, she said, it has played an important role in the Treasure Valley’s ever-intensifying argument over growth and how it should be managed.

“There are a lot of ways we’ve already won,” she said. “Just having the conversation, getting people engaged and galvanized to make changes, is really important.”

Rael and other opponents of Dry Creek Ranch say they worry about the loss of prime farmland, wildlife habitat and a historical legacy that includes the Jeker family farm off Dry Creek Road.

Hunter said his company has gone above and beyond what’s normally expected of developers. Besides its own sewer system, he said, Dry Creek Ranch will have an account for initiatives, funded by fees homeowners pay, to reduce the project’s impact on wildlife.

Boise Hunter Homes is bringing on The Mule Deer Foundation, a nonprofit, as a voting member on a committee that will decide how to spend the money, projected at $3 million by the time the project is finished, with an additional $200,000 per year of income. The foundation will administer the funds.

Additionally, Dry Creek Ranch will save water by stopping the irrigation of water-chugging crops like alfalfa and corn, said Jim Hunter, Travis’ father and the company’s founder.

The company is paying $13 million in impact fees to Ada County Highway District for roadway improvements — more than would be required in most of the county. The project will have a community garden that provides produce to people who live there, Travis Hunter said.

“There’s no other development that has all these characteristics,” he said. “We are the most progressive, sustainable planned community in the state.”

The development is south of Avimor and west of Hidden Springs, two other planned communities built for people who want a small-town, country lifestyle with commuting distance of Boise.

Boise Hunter Homes expects to finish its first homes by early 2019, he said. Completing the project likely will take 15 years, with 100-125 new homes being built every year, he said.

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