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Boise could add more restrictions to tearing down buildings

Boise is hoping to cut down on waste from building demolitions starting this year. 

On Tuesday, Boise City Council heard an update on the city’s proposal to rewrite the rules on building demolition permits from the ground up. The new rules, which have been in development with the demolition and building material recycling industry, would require planning approval for a demolition permit. 

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The applicant would also have to submit a plan detailing the amount of materials in the demolition, how much of it could be reused and how it will be hauled to a reuse company. Contractors doing the demolition will also be required to directly communicate with reuse companies, like Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, to ensure more materials go directly to be reused instead of being taken to the landfill and returned back to the city. 

The reformed demolition ordinance will likely come back to City Council for a vote in March. 

Jason Blais, a Boise building official, said the city hopes the ordinance will reduce waste from demolitions between 35% and 40%. 

“The goal is to divert more materials from the landfill as waste,” he said. 

Right now, if someone wants to take down a structure in Boise they can file an application with the City of Boise, post a bond to pay for any site cleanup if the job is not completed properly and the permit will be granted within 24 hours. Boise receives roughly 120 demolition permits annually, with about 70% residential and the rest for commercial property. 

Residential demolitions are not all homes. Garages and outbuildings are also counted in this category. 

More changes

This is not the first change Boise City Council has made to demolitions.

In September, they voted to require anyone hoping to demolish a building in an office or commercial zone, or a multi-family zone, to wait roughly 15 days to receive design review approval before a demolition permit can be issued. 

This change also requires neighborhood associations to receive notice of any demolition permits filed in their area so they can provide comment.

Travis Apartments

Discussion’s of a demolition ordinance first surfaced over a year ago.

Mayor Lauren McLean, who was then city council president, and City Council first identified reforming the demolition ordinance as a priority in the fall of 2019 after a developer proposed a condo project on the site of a 1930s-era apartment complex in West Downtown. 

In the midst of several groups mobilizing to save the Travis Apartments, which offered affordably priced one-bedroom apartments, property owner and developer Creed Herbold took out a demolition permit from the city. He assured City Council at the hearing on the project the apartment building would be demolished whether or not the condo project was approved. 

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Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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