Homeowners in Northwest Boise rally to oppose more development as opens spaces vanish
Commissioners for the Ada County Highway District expressed “significant concerns” about safety in a northwest Boise neighborhood after more than a dozen residents testified about potential problems in regards to a new subdivision off Hill Road Parkway.
Four members of the five-person commission shared worry after hearing about potential danger in the neighborhood from people who are concerned that the new Prominence subdivision, a project by Trilogy Development, would only exacerbate those troubles.
Residents of Boise’s North West neighborhood have been critical of the planned subdivision for more than a year. Despite explosive growth in Boise, the neighborhood is still largely semi-rural, an aspect residents value. Boise annexed the land in 2014 and 2015, according to previous Statesman reporting, and the area has been a popular place for infill projects in the time since.
While many people in the area are uneasy about potential rezoning for the new subdivision, Commission President Rebecca Arnold reminded the audience of more than 50 people that ACHD only has authority over the highway and transportation aspects of the development.
As a result, the people who spoke at the evening meeting primarily focused on worries for safety on roads in the area, which is popular with pedestrians and cyclists.
Karen Danley, who lives in the neighborhood north of Hill Road Parkway, said she was never comfortable with her daughter getting on her bike and visiting parks in the neighborhood. She said she would have to say a prayer when her daughter would ride her bike to school, even as her daughter got older.
“You have two elementary schools, one junior high, a sports complex and a park, and there’s no safe way currently to cross the parkway,” Danley said, comparing the facilities to candy for children living on the other side of the parkway.
Others talked about several other topics affecting the neighborhood, including people who aren’t following intended road patterns by making U-turns through grassy medians, multiple large trucks that go to the landfill located nearby and hazards to cyclists in the community. Richard Llewellyn, president of the North West Neighborhood Association, said he felt the traffic impact study, prepared and presented by Kittelson and Associates and generally agreed with by ACHD staff, failed to acknowledge recent growth across Boise.
“We’re in need of a good traffic impact study that addresses the reality of growth in the area,” Llewellyn told the Statesman during a break in the meeting. “We need to look at reality with that, and we need to address where and how and when improvements to safety in the area can be made.”
While the commission did not order a new study, the commissioners agreed with the need to address hazards for those living in and driving through the area.
Arnold said she was “more than a little concerned” with the illegal U-turns and told members of ACHD staff she would like them to look into building different medians that would cut down on the problem even if that wasn’t the issue at hand in the meeting.
Commissioner Mary May said she had “significant concerns” about safety in the area.
“It’s not just with the vehicle traffic,” May said. “That is a very active area. There’s a lot going on that we’ve heard tonight, a lot of different entities.”
The commission ultimately voted to grant rezone, planned unit development and preliminary plat approval to the subdivision. Commissioners Arnold, Kent Goldthorpe and Sara Baker voted yes, while commissioners May and Jim Hansen voted no.
The approval came with conditions to add a pedestrian hybrid beacon at the intersection of Bogart Lane and Hill Road Parkway when construction begins on the project. There must also be a second beacon, sometimes called a ‘HAWK beacon,’ put in place at the intersection of Duncan Lane and Hill Road Parkway when the second phase of construction begins.
Sonia Daleiden, a principal engineer for Kittelson and Associates, told the commission when asked before the vote that the developer would be happy to work with ACHD staff to determine if and when a beacon would be needed at the Duncan intersection. She argued that too many beacons could diminish the effectiveness of all of them. Trilogy Development has an office in Boise and is owned by John A. Laude Sr.
May said after the meeting that she voted no because she was focused on safety. She felt both beacons needed to be in place immediately, but she said she didn’t put forth a separate motion because “that wasn’t going to happen.”
“In a perfect world, it would go in tomorrow,” May said. “Summer’s coming. You’re going to have a lot more foot traffic, bicyclists, people walking, dogs, horses. ... I just couldn’t separate myself from that.”
The project must still be approved by the city of Boise. It is expcted to go before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday, May 13, and Boise City Council at some point after that.