Guest Opinions

East Boise multifamily plans go against established rules

Peter Wachtell
Peter Wachtell

I am writing to express my opposition to the proposed rezoning of a parcel in East Boise to allow high-density multifamily units to be built on a parcel zoned for only single-family residential development. Although I am in favor of development generally, I am opposed to not following the zoning plans as created by the Planning and Zoning Commission for the development of East Boise and the resulting traffic pressures that are placed on the roads.

Over the last 23 years, I have been proud to participate in the growth of Boise from a small, quiet city to a vibrant, growing city that is regularly counted as one of the “Best” places to live in America. This did not happen by accident.

The Boise City Council, Boise City Planning and Zoning Commission and the mayor of Boise have all been working for a couple of decades to ensure that growth happens in a well-planned manner. In East Boise, they prudently expanded and widened ParkCenter Boulevard, added a new bridge over the Boise River and worked carefully to ensure that the Harris Ranch Master Plan, zoning and developments have all worked in harmony. The result is that East Boise is one of the hottest development areas in the Treasure Valley and is a great place to live.

A recent request was filed with the Planning and Zoning Commission to change the zoning of an 8.6-acre parcel from A1 (residential homes or agriculture) to R2, which would allow for 125 apartment rental units to be developed. Access to and from this development would only be on Warm Springs Avenue and such a development would generate approximately 1,000 trips daily on Warm Springs Avenue. The fastest route to Downtown from this parcel would be down Warm Springs Avenue along the already heavily trafficked route through the historic Warm Springs district.

In the zoning plan for East Boise, high-density multifamily apartment developments are supposed to be placed adjacent to ParkCenter Boulevard, which was designed to handle the traffic to and from these kinds of developments. The existing multifamily developments along ParkCenter are an excellent example of the kind of smart, well-planned and executed growth that has kept a booming Boise quite livable.

I am not in favor of granting zoning variances for the proposed development on Warm Springs Avenue. Such a change in zoning is not in keeping with the existing neighborhood. In fact, such a change in zoning for this single parcel may enhance the value for the developer, but that increase in value comes at the expense of the surrounding parcels. In this case, it would not just be the adjacent parcels that would be negatively impacted. All of the homes on Warm Springs Avenue, including any homes that rely on Warm Springs Avenue as their primary route for access, would be negatively impacted by the significant increase in traffic from this development.

Peter Wachtell has been a resident in Boise for over 23 years, where he has been a founding partner of seven different companies that are all based in Boise.