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Not everything an ‘automatic yes’: Meridian looks at where to prioritize growth

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New apartments and subdivisions seem to pop up every week all across Meridian. And while the growth may seem sporadic, the city strategically plans where development is occurring based on existing infrastructure.

Priority growth explained

The City of Meridian has designated areas of high priority growth that are based around existing sewer systems and sewer trunk lines. These locations are deemed prime for development and include Southeast Meridian, Northwest Meridan, and middle Meridian- or the infill area. 

Meridian Mayor Robert Simison says even before the city designated these growth areas as high-priority, a ‘large portion’ of development was already occurring there.

“And at the time, we were also talking about fire station locations. We were also talking about parks. We were also talking about police precincts, and it really just became very clear as well as the private investment was occurring through the development community is where we were seeing us invest our resources,” Simison said.

[Growth brings increased complaints about traffic. But cities like Meridian say they can’t just stop new construction]

The mayor added that continuing to develop high-priority growth areas makes more sense financially than spreading development out to other areas.

“It becomes more cost-effective for the city, more cost-effective or ACHD, it becomes more cost-effective for the school district,” he said. …So all those elements really just kind of said it makes sense. If that’s where the government is doing work, and that’s where the private development is doing work, let’s try to get everyone to be focused in that area. So it’s more cost-effective for us all.”

Not an ‘automatic yes’

There are often naysayers calling for growth moratoriums or saying the city is allowing too many developments to pass. However, even if a project is proposed for a priority area, it can still be continued or denied.

“That doesn’t mean it’s automatic, yes. From that standpoint, I think you can look back at the last months of hearings, and there’s been a couple of projects in these areas that council has said, ‘Well, maybe this isn’t the right place at this time on annexations’,” Simison said. “…What it has done, from my perspective, though, is it has kept us focused on the city, working with our partners, and prioritizing resources to those areas.”

Although Meridian is focusing on priority areas for development, council member Liz Strader says growth can, and will, happen in other parts of Meridian in the future. 

“The area that is not in priority growth area would be the like Southwest part of Meridian. It doesn’t mean that we’re not going to eventually develop it, but it means that for us to extend city services there at the same time we’re growing in all these other places it just doesn’t make sense. Not an efficient use of investment,” Strader said.

Ultimately, all growth looks to the comprehensive plan which guides the city’s future actions.

“All development starts with ‘how does it relate to our comprehensive plan,'” Simison said. “Is what’s being proposed, does it meet what the city has stated just two years ago that these are our expectations… I think help keep everyone focused on that element of the conversation.”

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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