The City of Boise will move forward with adding land near the Murgoitio park site to the city limits – but planning & zoning commissioners criticized the process that led to the decision.
About 50 people showed up in person as well as online at the Boise Planning and Zoning meeting Monday. Initially, the P&Z commission was going to consider annexing the large Murgoitio park site, but the application changed when Boise Mayor Lauren McLean directed it be removed from consideration for now.
With the Murgoitio site off the table, a few parcels along Victory Rd. remained – including a 15-acre site the Boise School District is in the process of selling to a housing developer, as BoiseDev exclusively reported last month.
After hearing from many Boiseans, the commission recommended approving the applications with conditions that portions of the project report be rewritten for clarification, the parcel owners are present at the annexation hearing, and that ‘adequate’ time is given to the public to comment.
Several residents of Southwest Boise came forward to voice their concerns surrounding water, traffic, and a ‘rushed’ process. Residents also raised questions about why separate parcels were being lumped together, and fear this annexation would affect the future of the park. Few were in favor of annexation.
“As noted in the agenda for one basic reason, the public meetings and other considerations of these two proposals for tonight, in my opinion, have been done in an inadequate manner, and a much too speedy way, and a much too speedy way,” resident Jeff Macaulay said. “That staff has indicated, we had one week in between notice, and the less than satisfactory Zoom meeting that occurred after that, there’s considerable public confusion still over the issues involved in all of this.”
As BoiseDev reported here, the properties connected after the Boise School District put together a deal to auction off the 15 acres of land. The top bidder of the land is Welltower Inc., which worked with Layton Construction to submit its over $12 million bid to bring a mix of houses to Boise. The Boise School board will consider the bid on August 11.
After the commission heard many residents share similar thoughts regarding the annexation, Commissioner Bob Schafer reminded them why the city believes this is the right move.
“What’s before us tonight is an annexation and the land use designation change,” he said. “It’s not a rezone, it’s not a development application. So we’re going to have the opportunity to see both of those applications in the future, with this 15-acre parcel. And I think that’s the right move. This parcel is contiguous to the city limits. And I think that’s how annexations should be added into the city in a thoughtful manner.”
Schafer said he empathized with residents’ concerns.
“I don’t disagree that the city has started a mess of this process,” he said.
Commissioners expressed frustration that the City of Boise Parks & Rec. department remained as the applicant on the annexation, even though it no longer owned any of the parcels in the request. Officials with the Boise School District and Boise Airport were not present at the meeting.
Because the commission approved the annexation and redesignation, the code says that the city will have to wait six months to update the Comprehensive Plan Land Use Map. Now the city can not consider an update for the Murgoitio site until February 2022 or later.