Garden City resident cries foul over plans to reconfigure streets near ACHD maintenance yard

Marty Camberlango never expected to live on a corner.

But in 2018, he got a letter in the mail informing him of plans to reconfigure the street pattern of his neighborhood along the Greenbelt after a new townhouse subdivision went in behind his Adams Street home. This change means a new street will run along his property, turning his lot, which borders a gravel lot owned by the Ada County Highway District, into a corner lot with a sidewalk along where his backyard fence now stands.

“They never acknowledged anything,” Camberlango told BoiseDev while standing in front of his house earlier this month. “They’re like, ‘oh, we’re going to build this road,’ so when (we said) ‘no way, we don’t want to be on a corner,’ our only recourse was to complain to the city, but the city can’t do anything about the roads .”

Expanding this small stretch of roadway also has larger implications for the multi-block area in and around ACHD’s maintenance yard. By extending the carriageway past Camberlango’s house, it allows ACHD to tear out the curved section of Reed Street and turn the area into a network of square lots. This changes the layout of the streets near a select piece of Greenbelt property, which could rapidly rebuild in the next decade if ACHD keeps to the schedule to relocate its maintenance yard in the next three to six years.

Construction on the rerouted Reed Street is expected to start this spring and last about three months, according to ACHD spokesperson Shandy Lam.

Plans began with the Blue Heron Subdivision

ACHD says it made the decision to rezone Reed Street after the application to redevelop the property behind Camberlango’s house was submitted four years ago.

In late October 2019, ACHD completed the registration of survey for Blue Heron Street and set out the long-term vision to extend the street to Adams along Camberlango’s property line. The city of Garden City approved the project, a 12-unit townhouse development called Blue Heron Subdivision, in 2019. Part of the development agreement for the project required the developer to build Blue Heron Street.

ACHD purchased the gravel lot east of Camberlango’s home in 2010 with the intention of expanding its maintenance yard over time. But now the agency is considering moving the farm out of Garden City entirely after a multi-year legal battle with Garden City was settled earlier this year.

This change will make the larger area into one parcel by removing Reed Street, which curves between the two. ACHD said it has no plans to currently sell land in the area, but it’s unclear if or when that will change and how consolidating all of its land holdings on the north end of Adams might affect its value.

“As such, ACHD management saw the benefit to the street in the proposed subdivision because the curvature portion of Reed St will also be abandoned in the future,” wrote ACHD spokesperson Shandy Lam. “This way the property is not bisected by the existing Reed Street.”

What was the notification process?

Much of Camberlango’s concern stems from how he was informed.

He is frustrated that even though this is an ACHD project, he learned about the reconfiguration of the Garden City road during the Blue Heron consultation process. Lam told BoiseDev in an email that they are aware of his complaints to Garden City and saw social media posts he has made about the project online.

“When they had (Blue Heron Subdivision) they sent us a letter, but when ACHD put right-of-way, they never sent anybody a letter telling them what they were going to do,” he said. “They never informed the neighborhood. They had to get rid of a road.”

ACHD says that because the land it is using for the new Blue Heron Street is owned by the agency, it shot the land and was not required to open the issue to a public hearing. Lam said this is similar to where ACHD will exchange the right-of-way when a developer wants to build a new road. But in this case ACHD was the property owner and not a developer.

“Because ACHD is the property owner, no public hearings were required for the ACHD portion,” Lam wrote. “However, ACHD communicated with Garden City and they were supportive as they prefer public streets. We have also communicated with (Camberlango) and in addition to receiving information, (he) has spoken with several employees who have met with (him) at ( his) property, spoke to (him) over the phone and exchanged emails.”

Garden City supports but hopes for long-term change

Jenah Thornborrow, Garden City’s planning director, has her eye on the next decades of development in the area.

She said the city isn’t opposed to realigning Reed Street and connecting Blue Heron to Adams, but they hope to make sure it’s all built in a way that maintains the connection to the Greenbelt near Reed Street. But in the long term, she hopes ACHD will consider widening Reed Street parallel to the Boise River and connecting it to 38th Street.

“The city is pleased that ACHD is calling (the newly widened street) East Blue Heron vs. Reed Street, and the city long-term would like to see a road that runs parallel to the river and open access to the public, so that part of the property will not be shut off,” she said.

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