Faced with major growth and development, two Boise suburbs are battling in court over which city can annex valuable building land in between.
The towns of Middleton and Star are fighting over land west of Can Ada Road in Canyon County. Middleton said the land is for annexation. But Star has already annexed the property illegally, Middleton claims.
In a lawsuit filed in November, Middleton claims Star illegally annexed a quarter square mile of property that Middleton had legally claimed.
Middleton is contesting two Star developments, the River Park subdivision and the Loran Estates subdivision, according to court records. Star City Council held public hearings on both developments in April and May last year. The River Park Subdivision spans 150.5 acres at 21817 and 21835 Blessinger Road. The Loran Estates subdivision is 10.5 acres at 23307 N. Can Ada Road.
Cities are allowed by Idaho code to annex land within city limits in their impact zones, the legally defined area where a city plans to develop and expand services. Cities in Idaho have impact zone agreements with their counties. Any areas outside of a city’s impact zone can be added to those of another adjacent city, but Middleton said cities are not allowed to annex properties in the impact zones of an other city.
Middleton said Star does not have an impact zone in Canyon County, as it exists primarily in Ada County, and Middleton’s impact zone extends to the county line at Can Ada Road.
“We’ve been planning for nearly two decades in our impact area,” Middleton City Administrator Becky Crofts said during a meeting with Canyon County Commissioners on May 4, 2021. domain. “
Crofts said Middleton was concerned that Star would approve developments with a much greater density than Middleton and the county planned.
“A lot of developers have come to Middleton to build townhouses, apartments, and the council wants Middleton to remain a rural community,” Crofts said at the May meeting. “Star’s planning is denser than the city or county would like.”
Dispute has implications for future land use
Christopher Meyer, a Givens Pursley attorney specializing in planning and zoning law, is representing Middleton in his lawsuit. At the meeting, he praised the Idaho code for establishing rules that generally prevent disputes like Middleton and Star’s situation.
“With the city impact zone, you set those boundaries with the county and then honor them,” Meyer told the commissioners. “That didn’t happen here. The first part happened, but Star City didn’t honor that.
The Middleton Impact Zone was first established with Canyon County in 2001 and was adjusted in September 2021. Star is In negotiations with Canyon County Commissioners to establish its own impact zone with Canyon County.
Star countered Middleton’s claims in court, saying Star can annex properties that extend beyond its impact area and into Canyon County as long as all private landowners consent and the land is connected to the city.
“Idaho’s annexation statute contains no such restriction on a city exercising its annexation power,” Star’s attorneys wrote in court documents.
Star’s attorneys also argue that any court decision on the annexation of River Park Subdivision and Loran Estates would be “untimely.”
“For both annexation approvals, the deadline to file a judicial review passed after 28 days on June 15, 2021,” the documents say.
Star Mayor Trevor Chadwick and attorneys representing Star in the lawsuit did not respond to requests for comment.
Star’s attorneys say judicial review is not allowed in this type of annexation process where the landowners have consented. A district judge is set to hear Star’s motion to dismiss the case at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 24, on Zoom.
Meyer told the commissioners: “This is a situation where investments have been made and must be honoured.”
He added that the dispute has implications in the county and across the state.
“This little dispute between two small towns could be replicated in every town in Canyon County,” Meyer said. “You could have people coming in from all over saying, ‘We’re going to annex here. “”
Idaho lawmaker takes a stand
Idaho Rep. Doug Okuniewicz, a Republican from Hayden, introduced legislation to support Star’s efforts in the case.
His bill HB 635 would allow annexations, with the consent of all private landowners, to extend into the impact area of any city.
If passed, this legislation would allow Star to continue to annex land in the Middleton impact area.
This story was originally published February 23, 2022 10:30 a.m.