City Council OKs Bench Infill Development 

Following a series of council hearings that stretched into the wee morning hours, the Boise City council last week approved a revamped plan for a controversial high-density condominium complex on Crescent Rim Drive.

Neighbors feared the original five-story, 92-unit construction plan would dwarf some of the neighborhood's historic one-story homes, increase traffic and block homeowners' views and sunlight. Condo developer Bill Clark, who billed the complex as "elegant living" to attract "snow birds" and part-time residents, said the size was a matter of economy, and that attempts to scale back the project would cut into the bottom line because builders save when they buy in bulk. He slightly scaled back the design of the complex and gained unanimous approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission, but neighbors appealed that decision and the proposal went before the council Aug. 31. Clark asked the council to approve a new 86-unit complex design that reduced the building's original height plan to four stories. The council approved a plan that exempted the complex from several city ordinances and pushed the number of units down to 79, in a 3 to 1 vote.

Neighbors said they could have done an even better job of making their case for a smaller development before the city council. "It gets to the issue of height. It's a four-story complex in a one-story neighborhood," said Jack Cortabitarte. "Because the city thought it was a difficult decision, they tried to appease both sides." Opponents of the complex said they don't know what their next step is, but several said the city's decision would set precedents for future projects, as developers see what kind of push room they have with the city. "It's going to be hard for neighborhood groups and organizations to follow us in opposing infill that doesn't fit," Cortabitarte said. "They'll look at what we went through for one year and four months and ask, 'Do we want to do that?'"

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