Boise Council Won't Let Private Pilot Land in Foothills Without a Fight 

  • Ada County Development Services

After Ada County officials ignored the Boise City Council's recommendation and gave the "all clear" signal to a landowner to build a private airstrip in the Boise Foothills, city officials appear to be gearing up for an extended debate over the issue—including a possible legal challenge.

First, however, the Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to file a formal appeal to the Ada County Planning and Zoning Commission after the commission approved the application from Dean Hilde to build the controversial airstrip.

"I think the county needs to be aware of the overwhelming citizen support of the most recent Foothills Levy," said Boise Councilwoman Maryanne Jordan, referring to the 40 percent voter turnout in the November 2015 election, when Boise voters approved the levy in a landslide.

"I'm also concerned that this type of use in the foothills had been going on for sometime, which I wasn't aware of until I saw the news reports," she said.

Boise Weekly first reported April 27 how the landowner had been landing his Piper "Supercub" plane in the foothills before telling Ada County officials about his use. It was only then that county officials told the pilot he must formally submit an application to build and use an airstrip.

That initial application triggered significant pushback from the Boise Fire and Parks and Recreation departments as well as the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, which had "primary concerns of disturbance" to wintering elk and deer."  

"The presence of wildlife on the airstrip would make it unusable," the agency stated.

Nonetheless, Ada County P&Z voted 4-1 to approve the application May 5.

"This is completely out of touch with our community," said Boise Councilman TJ Thomson, who is waging a campaign to become an Ada County commissioner. "Every single city department highly recommended that this be denied. That's the first time I can remember something like that happening."

The Council voted to file a formal appeal to further debate on the issue, giving city staff orders to move the appeal along quickly since any formal challenge to the P&Z vote needed to be filed within 15 days of the May 5 vote.
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