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Boise City Council grants time extension for riverside condos over objection of Albertson family

A developer is getting another two years to act on a plan to build 300 condominiums on the edge of Kathryn Albertson Park, despite the best efforts of two members of one of Boise’s most prominent families.

Boise City Council resoundingly turned down an appeal Tuesday from Joe and Jaime Jo Scott, hoping to slow down an extension request on the residential development project Trapper’s Island council approved in 2019. This is the latest move by the Scotts to fight the project, which lies on a piece of land between the Boise River and Kathryn Albertson Park below the rim on Houston Road, where the father and daughter live. BoiseDev first brought the continued opposition to light earlier this fall.

Joe Scott is the grandson of Joe Albertson. The Scotts are not involved in the Albertsons grocery chain of today.

In this appeal, the Scotts’ attorney Terry Copple objected to Jayo Holdings and WHPacific asking for a two-year time extension to complete the project Boise City Council approved in 2019. He argued that the developer “sat on its rights” to build on the site since it was approved and objected to planning & zoning approving the time extension without a public hearing.

[‘Something fantastic:’ Albertson foundation buys land for unspecified project near Boise River]

‘We don’t hold public hearings on everything’

City Council members were not sympathetic.

After over half an hour of listening to Copple’s presentation and batting questions back and forth, the council unanimously followed city staff’s recommendation to deny the appeal and allow Trapper’s Island to get its time extension. At council and P&Z meetings, time extensions are common for previously approved projects where a developer asks for more time to start construction.

“The decision to not hold a public hearing, in this case, was appropriate,” city council member Patrick Bageant said before the vote. “We don’t hold public hearings on everything. It’s not a question of due process. It’s a question of how much process is due.”

Public hearings for time extensions for approved projects, or denials of them, are extremely rare. For a time extension to qualify for a public hearing, there must have been “significant amendments” to the city’s comprehensive plan or zoning ordinance, “significant” changes to land use in the area that could impact the project, or newly discovered “hazardous situations” with the parcel, according to the city.

Fire access woes

Copple said the project now qualifies for a public hearing because the lack of a fire access road into the development qualifies as a hazardous situation.

One of the project’s requirements is for a secondary access road for fire crews to use in an emergency. To accomplish this, the developer told the council in 2019 it hoped to build a bridge over Settler’s Canal into Kathryn Albertson Park and build a road that connects to the parking lot.

This plan was dashed earlier this year when Copple wrote to the city in February saying the Scotts and the JA & Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation they control were opposed to the access road going through the park. The Albertson family donated the land for Kathryn Albertson Park in 1979. The donation carried a restriction on the deed saying the park must be used as a nature area for pedestrians only. If that deed is violated, the city could lose control of the park.

City legal staff and Parks and Recreation Director Doug Holloway agreed and turned down Jayo Holdings’ pitch for reconfiguring the canal to build the access road to find a solution. As it stands today, Jayo Holdings is still working to find a solution and could bring a redesigned project back to the city at some point for another approval if a solution for fire access can’t be found, attorney JoAnn Butler said.

“The unbridled speculation by two people opposed to Trapper’s Island by what will, or what will not, is just that: speculation,” Butler said. “We are very much aware of the specifications we have to meet, and we are working to meet them.”

Jayo told BoiseDev last month that he may reconfigure the entrance to boost fire access.

Council members stand by P&Z

City Council Member Holli Woodings wholeheartedly agreed with city staff that a public hearing wasn’t required on the time extension request.

“If the fire hazard isn’t mitigated by the developer, the project doesn’t move forward,” she said. “That doesn’t change the conditions that exist, and it doesn’t change the conditions in which the development would be built.”

City Council Member Jimmy Hallyburton agreed, following multiple questions to Copple about what constitutes a “new hazard.” He said city code is “crystal clear” on the matter.

“This project will not go forward if there is a fire hazard and the fire hazard has already been discussed,” he said. “There is no way the project will move forward if that fire hazard exists.”

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

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