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Idaho Supreme Court hears arguments in appeal over a permit for affordable housing in Blaine County

Hailey, Idaho
Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Supreme Court justices heard an appeal Monday from Blaine County over whether a permit it issued for an affordable housing project is legitimate.

Last year, a district court judge ruled in favor of a Hailey resident, Kiki Tidwell, who sued the county, the Blaine County Housing Authority and ARCH Community Housing Trust, saying a permit to build an affordable housing duplex north of Hailey was issued unlawfully, according to reporting by the Idaho Mountain Express.

The judgment said the plat for the deeded land did not allow for ARCH's planned development on that property. The county, housing authority and ARCH appealed and oral arguments were heard Monday.

The county argued the district court judge erred in ruling Tidwell had the standing to bring the case forward.

“Tidwell's standing claims essentially boil down to, 'I will have to look at this duplex occasionally when I drive, ride or golf nearby,'” said Tim Graves, Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for Blaine County.

Justice Gregory W. Moeller questioned Graves about what options members of the public would have for recourse on a given county decision if they don't have standing. Graves answered if they don't get their way through the public hearing process, their recourse is at the ballot box.

Tidwell ran for Blaine County Commissioner against Jacob Greenberg in 2020 and lost.

Gary Allen, an attorney for Tidwell, said her recreational interests are sufficient to bring the case forward.

“This case is about government overreach and who's allowed to challenge it," Allen said.

Tidwell lives about a mile from the proposed housing site, and Allen said she's a supporter of affordable housing, not an opponent.

Allen also argued the lower court was correct in deciding that the county's permit was illegal.

Tidwell claimed the land was solely meant for open space and recreational use, which the district court's ruling affirmed. However, the county said this was a mistake. The final plat states the property is for “public use,” it argued, which could include affordable housing.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

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