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ICYMI: Boise required CBH Homes to build houses with increased setbacks. Neighbors discovered it started building the original plan instead

ICYMI 2022
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The BoiseDev team is off for the holiday break. (We’ll keep an eye out for any major breaking stories of course.) While our employees enjoy some downtime, we bring you a few stories you might have missed this year. We’ll be back at full strength on January 2nd!

When something didn’t look quite right on a Southwest Boise construction site, Marisa Keith grabbed her tape measure. 

In 2018, Keith, the president for the Southwest Ada County Alliance, was part of a group of neighbors who heavily opposed the construction of the 28-unit Sabana subdivision off of Victory Road. After hours of tense hearings, the Corey Barton Homes and Trilogy Development project eventually got the go-ahead, but with some conditions. Boise City Council required the developer to add increased setbacks to move the new homes further from the property line to give existing residents more breathing room. 

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But, once construction started, things didn’t look right to Keith. She discovered the foundations for the homes had all been poured in the original places, with the setbacks several feet closer to the property line than the city council required when it approved the project. 

City spokesperson Justin Corr said the error came when the Planning department signed off on the plans submitted by CBH with setbacks along the backside of the property closer to 14 feet instead of the 20-foot distance they agreed to abide by during the approval process. Corr said, “that shouldn’t have happened,” and it led to the city building inspector using those plans when he checked the project during construction. 

“CBH has agreed to fix the issue and re-pour the foundations in compliance,” Corr wrote in an email to BoiseDev. “They will also need to submit updated site plans for the record on those specific cases.”

CBH Homes did not respond to a list of questions from BoiseDev. 

‘Why were we the ones to catch it?’ 

The compromise when Sabana was approved created a “unique situation” with a range of setback distances. Along the back of the property, homes are supposed to be twenty feet from the back fence, the west side is supposed to have 30-foot setbacks, and the east side is planned for 15 feet. 

An email from March 23 obtained by BoiseDev between two city employees said a visit to the property found “all lots not in compliance.” In order to follow the plans Boise approved, CBH will be cutting and removing foundation work already completed on the site, the email said. 

CBH was not fined, and Keith’s code compliance complaint was marked “no violation” because Corr said the company is repouring to come back under compliance with the rules. 

A map showing the setbacks Boise City Council required for Sabana in 2018

Keith said she isn’t sure if the mistake was intentional on CBH’s part, but she was bewildered to see the error at the time. 

“From a neighborhood standpoint, why were we the ones to catch it?” she said, standing on the street next to the construction site. “Why were the neighbors the ones to have to watch this development?… It just seems like if you go to city council and they put conditions on something that there should be some checks and balance system to make sure that happens.”

When asked how the city handles these situations generally when developers make promises they don’t keep, Corr said the building department will step in and put a stop-work order until the matter is resolved. He didn’t share the city’s policy if a project is already complete with the oversight is discovered and reported. 

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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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