Boise & Garden City

Ada County commissioners reject Table Rock-area airstrip

Take a trip into the Owyhees on Dean Hilde's airplane

See Silver City, the desert south of Boise and the Snake River from a low-altitude flight into the mountains.
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See Silver City, the desert south of Boise and the Snake River from a low-altitude flight into the mountains.

Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs said Wednesday that his reason for voting against Dean Hilde’s application was the simplest: In his estimation, the Boise Foothills simply aren’t a good place for an airstrip.

After taking a few minutes to explain why he thought Hilde’s opponents overstated concerns about increased wildfire risk and impacts to wildlife and the surrounding environment, Tibbs joined Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre in upholding an appeal of the Planning and Zoning Commission’s approval of Hilde’s airstrip application.

Dave Case, the third county commissioner, voted to deny the appeal and approve Hilde’s application. Case said that for him, private property rights were the main issue.

“There’s always a fire issue in the Foothills, but I don’t think that there’s any way we can 100 percent resolve that,” he said.

The city of Boise and two conservation groups filed the appeal of the Planning and Zoning decision.

The commissioners’ vote Wednesday likely ends a dispute that has smoldered for months. Hilde wanted to use a ridge north of the Table Rock recreation area as a primitive landing strip. He argued that his plane would be no more disruptive to wildlife or neighbors and pose no more fire risk than well-established Foothills activities, such as walking dogs, and driving cars and trucks.

The decision also likely sinks his agreement to buy the 149-acre lot where the ridge he wanted to use as an airstrip is located. Hilde told the Statesman that transaction was contingent on gaining a permit for the airstrip.

The decision was seen as a victory for advocates of preserving the Foothills for recreation and wildlife habitat, but Hilde warned that if he didn’t get permission for the airstrip, that ridge would someday be dotted with homes.

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