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Initial hearing set in Eagle for Avimor annexation

The City of Eagle will soon decide if it wants to take Avimor under its wing. 

After years of discussion and shifting political winds, the first public hearings for the annexation of Avimor are set for 6 p.m. on January 17 at Eagle City Hall. Later this year the annexation request will go before Eagle City Council, which will have its own set of public hearings and discussions before making the final decision on the matter. 

This comes after the topic of whether Avimor, located along Highway 55 at the confluence of Gem, Boise and Ada counties should be annexed into Eagle City limits has been raging in the Treasure Valley for more than four years now. If it’s brought into Eagle, the city would then become responsible for providing services to the area, Avimor residents would pay Eagle property taxes and they could vote in the suburb’s elections. 

The item has been scheduled for the calendar, but the agenda packet is not yet posted so it is unknown what recommendation Eagle city staff has made for the annexation or if there have been any changes to the application in the months since it was submitted. The agenda item says the site set for annexation is 17,522 acres and is set to have 8,761 homes with 860,000 square feet of commercial space at full build-out. 

If you’d like to write in with comments, they must be submitted to Eagle City Hall no less than five business days prior to the hearing. The address is 660 E. Civic Lane Eagle, Idaho 83616. If you need accessible communication aids and other services to participate, please contact Eagle’s ADA coordinator at 208-939-6813 with three to five days’ notice.

Interested residents may also testify in person for 3 minutes at Eagle City Hall on January 17. 

‘Politics change and politicians change’ 

Avimor has long been the biggest political football in Eagle. 

It was opposed by both the cities of Eagle and Boise when it was first proposed in the early 2000s, at a time when Ada County was eagerly trying to woo developers to build planned communities in unincorporated areas. The development eventually moved ahead after a lawsuit from the City of Boise tried to stop it and has built hundreds of homes, a community center and retail stores since. 

With the similar proposed planned community of Spring Valley around the same time, city leadership opted to expand its comprehensive plan to include the foothills so it could try and control the growth, as reported by the Idaho Statesman. The plan required developers to pack density into smaller developments, leaving wide swaths of open space preserved. This gave Avimor runway to move ahead. 

The project weathered the Great Recession and continued to build out in recent years, attracting out-of-state buyers looking for a slice of Idaho’s brand of freedom and wide open spaces. Talks about annexation in Eagle began in 2017, but even though the city had invested a lot of resources into creating a plan for foothills development, city leadership at the time was concerned it would break the city’s bank. 

Winds continued to shift as Ada County moved to crack down on sprawling planned communities and the commission flipped to a Democratic majority with incoming Commissioner Diana Lachiondo and Kendra Kenyon. And so when former Mayor Stan Ridgeway moved in 2019 to remove the foothills from Eagle’s master plan, it left Avimor without a path forward with the vision they’d spent years building. 

Avimor money powered a new crop of more conservative candidates in the 2019 Eagle municipal election, with the planned community’s lead developer Dan Richter telling the Idaho Statesman ‘politics change and politicians change’ in the months leading up to the vote. By the beginning of 2020, Ridgeway and his political allies on the city council were out and challenger Jason Pierce, who is more of a fan of low-density growth, was in as Mayor.

Since the changes at city hall that led to Avimor once again having a path to annexation, the city has commissioned a final economic study on the possibility and accepted an annexation application in the fall. The city’s study, which Avimor countered with its own analysis, says the project would create a long-term multi-million dollar deficit for the city due to costs to provide services. 

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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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