In a blink-and-you-missed-it vote, the Boise City Council gave its blessing Oct. 13 to the once-controversial St. Luke's Master Plan, fitting it neatly into the city's Blueprint Boise comprehensive plan.
The approval was in stark contrast to a rejection of the plan in February by the city's planning and zoning commission, followed by an eight-hour public hearing in July, which triggered a number of conditions imposed by the council before policymakers would OK the massive expansion of the East Boise health care campus.
"Since then, the St. Luke's team has been working to amend the plan to meet those changes," said Hal Simmons, planning director for Boise Planning and Development Services.
The centerpiece of those changes is the much-debated permanent closure of a section of Jefferson Street, which St. Luke's insisted was necessary for its expansion. As a result, the newly revised St. Luke's Master Plan promises the loss of access on Jefferson would be compensated for "by providing alternative connectivity enhancements on Bannock Street as well as on other streets in the vicinity."
The new plan would reopen a section of Bannock closed by a previous St. Luke's expansion in the 1990s with a 28-foot-wide public easement where no further construction would be allowed.
According to the document, "The corridor may also be designed to allow automobile access deemed appropriate by the city of Boise."
Additional conditions include specific transit stops intended "to serve a future fixed line," referring to the city's desire to introduce a downtown circulator transit system; and new bike lanes on Idaho and Main streets, "depicted as a buffered- or protected-lane design."
"I really appreciate the way this was addressed," said City Council President Maryanne Jordan, before moving to approve the plan. "It's easy to track and it makes sense."
Before Councilwoman Elaine Clegg cast her "yes" vote, she added, "I want to clarify ... to put on the record, that many of these features are subject to much public review and work."
Simmons nodded in agreement.
"Much detail is yet to come," he said.