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Eagle, Star spread the wings of growth

Ada towns look toward future by planning effective way to expand

EAGLE — West Ada County cities are looking at expanding their borders to take in booming growth surrounding them.

Star and Eagle leaders plan to meet this week to talk about how their areas of impact – land outside a city that the city has some regulatory and planning authority over – should grow and be managed. And starting next week, Eagle leaders want residents to help map out how the city should grow through 2025.

The idea is decide now what that land should look like as it develops, said Eagle Planning Administrator Bill Vaughan.

Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill said city officials also want to make sure their Ada County counterparts have clear guidelines for any developments they approve in Eagle´s area of impact.

“If we don´t do the long-term planning now for that area, then you are forced with implementing unplanned development patterns, which is not responsible growth,” Vaughan said.

Eagle is among Idaho´s fastest-growing cities. From 2000 to 2002, the population grew by 17 percent and increased by more than 1,000 residents per year, city officials said.

Eagle´s population in 2002 was 13,380 compared with 3,327 in 1990, according to the Community Planning Association of Southwest Idaho.

Eagle can only grow to the west toward Star because it´s hemmed in on all other sides by Meridian, the Foothills and Boise, Merrill said.

“We see a lot of heavy urbanized growth in the areas approved by the county. We have a desire to do planning for the city,” Merrill said.

And public participation in planning is key to getting approval from the Ada County Commission, Vaughan said.

“Having community buy-off and participation means so much. It´s hard to argue with the voice of the people,” he said.

Eagle and Star leaders meet at 4 p.m. today at the Star Fire Department.

“What we want to do is get some efficient and effective planning between the two cities,” Merrill said.

Star Mayor Nathan Mitchell said his city is slightly ahead of Eagle in the process of expanding its area of impact.

“We already have an application in front of Ada County,” Mitchell said. “We have gone through the process with the public and City Council.”

Ada County commissioners asked Star and Eagle officials to work out any potential conflicts for the ground between the two cities, Mitchell said.

“Essentially the ground between Eagle´s current area of impact and Highway 16 would in the best interest of both cities to have,” he said.

Vaughan said Eagle plans to wrap up the planning and hearing process this coming winter before submitting the plan to Ada County. Idaho code requires the county to adopt a comprehensive plan for managing growth before it takes effect in the area of city impact.