After testimony stretched for more than three hours, the Boise Planning and Zoning Commission voted to recommend the denial of an application to allow denser zoning on land in the northwest portion of the city.
That presents a roadblock for the Prominence subdivision, a project by Trilogy Development, owned by Boise businessman John A. Laude Sr. Trilogy proposes 83 townhouses, 74 single-family homes and up to 130 apartments on land bordered by Bogart Lane to the east and Duncan Lane to the west and bisected by Hill Road Parkway.
The proposed subdivision would bring hundreds of homes to a part of Boise that prides itself for being relatively rural even despite explosive growth in other parts of the city.
Dozens of people testified, sharing their worries about everything from the character of the neighborhood to transit concerns in the area to how a neighborhood plan is not yet in place for that part of the city following Boise’s annexation of the land a few years ago.
A major concern was that fire hazards for residents would only get worse as density increased. There is an agreement with the Eagle Fire Department to serve that area.
The commissioners said they shared the concern over safety in the case of a fire, but they also took the North West Neighborhood Association to task for not having their neighborhood plan done yet. Neighborhood planning is a joint effort between the city and the neighborhood association done with the help of a city planner.
The area was annexed into the city only a few years ago in 2014 and 2015, according to previous Statesman reporting, and the area has been a popular place for infill projects in the time since.
“I am concerned about the annexation issue and the lack of a neighborhood plan,” Commissioner Milt Gillespie said. “I would admonish especially the neighborhood. You guys gotta get it in gear.”
The other problem for the commissioners ended up being how significant the increase in density would be. The project, which is 38.4 acres, is zoned R-1A, which calls for single-family residential properties with 2.1 units per acre. If the rezone were approved, the area would be zoned as R-1C/DA, which calls for eight units per acre with a development agreement.
Commission Chair Jennifer Stevens floated the idea of delaying a vote to get more reports from agencies that weigh in on such projects, but the commission ultimately voted unanimously for denial. Commission Co-chair Tamara Ansotegui was not present and was not part of the vote.
Boise’s Planning and Zoning Commission is not the first local government board to express concern over the project. Ada County Highway District commissioners reviewed the project in April and expressed “significant concerns” about safety in the proposed neighborhood. ACHD has authority over only highway and transportation aspects of the development.
ACHD told the developers to put in two pedestrian hybrid beacons, also known as ‘HAWK beacons,’ as conditions for approval.
Neighbors have been critical of the project even longer and have been fighting it for more than a year.
Farmland and livestock are not uncommon in that part of the city, something those who live there, many for generations, cherish. Mayor David Bieter has shared that he considers holding on to that to be unrealistic, telling people during a 2018 town hall that they “don’t live in the country.”
The commissioners reached their decision Monday night at almost midnight, ultimately deciding to recommend denial of that item and also to vote against two related items on their agenda.
Their recommendation now goes before the Boise City Council.
This story has been revised to correct that there is no state mandate for fire response times.