Stop!

Planning commissioner calls for growth moratorium

| July 11, 2007
An Ada County Planning and Zoning commissioner has called for a moratorium on growth in the Treasure Valley, a move seemingly born out of frustration with development.

In a column published July 7 on the Boise Guardian Web site, Steve Edgar called for the moratorium to "allow time for catch-up and create some breathing (no pun intended) room." The proposed moratorium would affect all projects across the valley for between 120 and 180 days. The move would be made under the health and safety guidelines of the commission.

It's an ambitious plan, but it looks like there is little hope of it moving forward. "Idaho Code 67-6523 makes it very clear that such moratoriums can only be passed in situations of imminent peril to public safety and health. While some might debate whether our current situation meets that provision of the law, we are certainly open to listening to any suggestion Commissioner Edgar or any other Ada County resident might have regarding this topic," said Fred Tilman, chairman of the Ada County Board of Commissioners in a written statement. "His call for a building moratorium appears to be personal in nature and not the opinion of the full Ada County Planning and Zoning Commission."

Edgar's reasons for the moratorium, include decreasing air quality, overcrowded roads, too much demand for limited water resources, and a general degradation of quality of life.

He said it's not a matter of "not-in-my-backyard" politics, but an effort to control growth by stepping back and looking at the bigger picture. Edgar proposes land-control agencies get up-to-date studies and analyses from agencies and departments across the valley to allow those in charge to make more-informed decisions. "I am tired of approving projects because they meet 'the rule of law' and 'finding of fact,'" he wrote. "I want to make accurate, informed and coordinated decisions based on what is right for our valley and environment. I want to complete my appointed task with the trust and with the due diligence my fellow citizens expect of me and my fellow commissioners."

Edgar's frustrations and motivations have gained sympathy among others, although no one seems to willing to go so far as support the idea of the moratorium.

"While I agree with Mr. Edgar that protecting air and water quality, reducing congestion and protecting Ada County's quality of life are critically important issues facing county and city governments, I don't believe a largely symbolic 180-day moratorium is going to resolve any of those issues," said Ada County Commissioner Paul Woods in an e-mail to BW. "While I may share Mr. Edgar's frustration with the lack of progress on these problems, I believe the real thing we must all do is focus on implementing immediate and permanent change and resist the temptation of overreaction and perpetual study."

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