Petition to Save Dry Creek Farmland Won't Reach November Ballot 

The Dry Creek area includes farmland, the community of Hidden Springs, and if Boise Hunter Homes gets its way, the Dry Creek Ranch subdivision.

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The Dry Creek area includes farmland, the community of Hidden Springs, and if Boise Hunter Homes gets its way, the Dry Creek Ranch subdivision.

A petition that would have stalled the development of the Dry Creek Ranch in the Dry Creek Valley has failed. In a July 30 Facebook post, organizer Stephanie Rael vowed to make the effort to save the historic farming community an ongoing reminder that development poses a threat to agricultural land in the Treasure Valley.

"...We remain positive and enthusiastic about our community's important role in the larger, longer-term issue of responsible growth in the Treasure Valley and beyond," she wrote.

In February 2017, the Ada County Commission faced a decision on whether to accept Boise Hunter Homes' scaled-down proposal to develop Dry Creek Ranch, a 1,400-acre, 1,800-unit subdivision near the existing community of Hidden Springs. The commission ultimately approved BHH's new plan, but in doing so it kicked off a movement to save farmland in the area.

After months of planning, a drive for a ballot measure began in February 2018, and volunteers with clipboards became a common sight across the county. If successful, it would have put Ada County's decision to allow BHH's development to go forward before voters in November. The deadline for signatures was July 30, but according to Ada County Deputy Clerk Phil McGrane, the signatures were never submitted.

"There is not an official count," he said. "They just did not turn them in at all."

The Save Dry Creek movement, he said, faced an uphill battle. McGrane said that while the signature threshold for a statewide initiative to put Medicaid expansion on the ballot required 56,192 valid signatures from across Idaho, volunteers with Save Dry Creek would have needed to collect valid signatures from 40,594 people in Ada County alone. That's because the signature requirement for county-wide measures is equal to 20 percent of the number of people who voted in the last general election, which took place in 2016, when voter turnout was at a record high.

"I think the challenge in this particular case [is] the threshold was very, very high for Dry Creek—in a lot of ways it was even a bigger burden for them to raise the signatures they needed than some of those statewide efforts," McGrane said.

Save Dry Creek won't get another chance. On July 1, a law backed by BHH and an attorney representing Ada County went into effect that prohibits the public from petitioning to put planning and zoning decisions on local ballots.

As of the publication of this article, Rael had not responded to requests for comment. 
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