Boise State master plan change heads to planning commission: new detail on what’s planned, neighborhood opposition

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Changes to Boise State’s Master Plan will go in front of the Boise Planning & Zoning Commission next week.

We first told you about the tweaks to the long-term vision for the campus last summer.

Now, we know a little bit more about what the school plans for its physical future.

After public feedback, the school decided to ask for rezoning of six parcels into its special “U – University District” zoning. It originally asked for rezoning on 18 parcels.

If approved, the six new plots would add about 1.5 acres to the campus.

Four of the pieces of land sit in the area of a future baseball stadium. Two more sit to the west of the Student Union Building and would allow for the construction of a new student housing project.

Neighbor opposition

Neighbors in the area to the southwest of the campus continue to raise concerns about a variety of university development practices and plans.

The area includes dozens of homes, and the school raised significant concern after its 2015 vision plan showed the area dramatically reconfigured. The 2019 plan scales back the ideas for the neighborhood, but residents still expressed concern.

The Southeast Neighborhood Association board voted to oppose rezoning of the two parcels near the current Honors College off Joyce St. and Yale Ct.

“The two parcels sit adjacent to existing single-family homes and would represent yet another ‘bite’ out of a threatened neighborhood, creating uncertainty for nearby homeowners and other residents,” the board wrote in its opposition letter.

Boise State hopes to build new student housing along University Drive, centrally located between the Quad and Student Union Building.

Half a dozen area neighbors also wrote letters in opposition to the Yale & Joyce rezoning. Issues cited including increased traffic, noise and loss of privacy. SENA said the rezoning doesn’t mesh with Boise’s requirement that such changes keep compatibility to the surrounding neighborhood.

The neighborhood association said it didn’t oppose rezoning around the baseball field.

Going up

Boise State hopes to remove height restrictions for the campus as part of the revised plan.

“Along with our rezoning request, we request the City consider changes to the U Zone’s dimensional standards. Boise State is proposing that height restrictions be removed for areas considered interior to campus,” University officials wrote in an application letter. “‘Interior’ is not formally defined at present, but a 50-foot buffer from the Campus Planning Boundary is already referenced in City Code. Areas further than 50 feet from the boundary could benefit from these dimensional changes.”

Officials said the Boise State campus’ proximity to Down makes it a natural fit to grow higher. They also say increased density will better utilize their existing footprint.

“As demand for housing, academic, administrative and athletic facilities increases, flexibility for vertical construction will assist with development amid land constraints,” they wrote. “These changes will be especially beneficial in limiting horizontal growth into expansion areas or neighborhoods near campus.”

Near-term projects

Updated documents filed by Boise State also bring more clarity to what the school hopes to do sooner – and later.

Along with the baseball field and student housing on University, a map indicates other projects that would roll out in the next one to ten years.

  • Renovation of Riverside Hall (formerly known as the business building).
  • Expansion of the Liberal Arts building.
  • A new Health Sciences building and quad.
  • New STEM Academic Building south of the football practice field between Bronco Ln. and University Dr.
  • A new east campus parking garage or surface lot near the baseball field.
  • Improvements to University Drive.

Other changes, like a revamped Albertsons Stadium east entrance, library expansion and a new theater/performing arts center, now sit more than ten years out.

What’s next

A public hearing for the proposed master plan changes is set for January 6th at 6pm at Boise City Hall. It would also need sign-off from Boise’s city council at a future date.

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