Boise State University says it wants to de-emphasize long-term parts of its proposed 30-year master plan, focus on “essential near-term issues” and work with the city, neighbors and the public on the longer-term plan.
“Although we have spent over two years thoroughly vetting this plan, it is also important to us that our neighbors and constituencies are heard in the approval process,” wrote Associate President Michael Sumpter in a letter to the city on Tuesday, two days after the Idaho Statesman reported details of the plan in a story and maps.
The Boise City Council is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the master plan on Tuesday, Jan. 19.
Boise State said it wants the city to approve the plan with an “emphasis on phase one,” which identifies 26 projects to be completed over the next 10 years, and with the understanding that the longer-range portions “will serve as a framework for continued community discussion and planning activities.”
The university also proposed partnering with the city’s staff this spring in a joint planning effort that would address “the many challenges and opportunities that are implicit in continued growth in the greater university area.”
In addition, the university said it will launch an outreach program for neighbors and the public “to connect with us on any issues that of interest regarding the campus operation or plan.”
After that, BSU said it will return to the city with a refined proposal for longer-term phases.
The university also told the city that it no longer seeks to rezone some of the residential properties it already owns within its proposed expansion area between University Drive and Boise Avenue in the Chrisway Drive and Juanita Street area.
The university had asked the city to rezone 39 parcels it owns from residential to “university” — the city’s designation for property that will be developed under the school’s master plan. About a dozen of those properties are within the proposed expansion area but are not adjacent to other university-zoned property.
BSU said it now wants to rezone only parcels needed for the Honors College and parcels within the existing university boundary. A five-story, 239,000-square-foot Honors College building at University Drive and Lincoln Avenue will feature dorms, classrooms, offices, a kitchen and a dining room.
“We are aware of no pressing need to seek approval of the other parcels at this time, and we believe it will eliminate the risk of unnecessarily alarming our affected neighbors,” Sumpter wrote.
Some property owners within the proposed expansion area have expressed concern about the effect “spot zoning” could have on their property values.
BSU professor Ed McLuskie, who lives in the expansion area, also told the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Statesman that he opposed rezoning isolated parcels because it could signal to prospective buyers that the university “inevitably” will overtake the neighborhood. McLuskie also cited a lack of neighborhood involvement in creating the plan and a lack of information about how his neighborhood would be reconfigured.
On Wednesday, McLuskie told the Statesman that Boise State’s “much less sweeping request is a positive sign for the university and Boise residents.”
“Boise State’s decision to scale back its 50-acre, three-phase vision to a decade plan in a proposal for 26 concrete projects ... helps mitigate the sense of inevitability, and the removal of spot zoning is a welcome marker in that direction,” he said in an email.