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BOISE -- Boise residents' months-long battle to to stop four-story apartment buildings from going up in their quiet neighborhood ended Monday night.

The Planning and Zoning Committee voted unanimously against rezoning the area at the corner of Gary Lane and Saxton Drive as residential, effectively blocking the Hawkins Company from going forward with construction.

That 4-0 decision came after hours of testimony from would-be neighbors worried about privacy, traffic, and plummeting property values if the 320 units went in as planned. Planning and Zoning received scores of emails opposing the rezone in the days leading up to Monday's meeting as well.

Lesley Thode, who lives near Gary Lane, wrote that the influx of new residents would turn a quiet street into a traffic nightmare.

Putting that many people into that vacant lot is going to greatly increase noise and seriously affect property values in the area, Thode wrote. It will negatively affect the quality of life for the residents who live off of Gary Lane. Please recommend against the application.

Others who live in the single-family homes that dot the area near the lot Hawkins Company wanted to use for the new apartments were more concerned that apartment residents sitting on the balcony would be able to peer down directly into their yards.

A 4-story complex (monstrosity is a better word) behind me would be like living in a fishbowl, Baron Lane resident Sue Kinney wrote. This type of development is vary unfair to homeowners. How would you feel if it was towering over your backyard?

Planner David Moser said those concerns, as well as the turnout at the meeting, helped the commissioners solidify their choice.

There were a lot of people there, no doubt about about it, he said, noting there were at least three pages of sign-up sheets from people who wanted to testify. Those comments from neighbors played into and had a major role in the commission's decision.

Even with most people limited to speaking for three minutes each, the meeting stretched late into into the night, wrapping up after 11 p.m. Moser said the commissioners were convinced zoning the lot for apartments would do too much harm to the residents already living in the area.

The commission agreed with the neighbors in the sense that yes, these are tall and massive structures close to the property line that will have an adverse impact on the adjacent neighborhood, he said.

That's a reversal from their previous decision: Planning and Zoning had already given Hawkins Company the OK for a retail buisiness with high walls in that location. Moser said the department has to submit their reasoning for the changed decision by June 2. After that, the developer has ten days to appeal.

Brandon Whallon of the Hawkins Company says they plan to do just that. He hopes the city council will allow the construction to move forward.

We're just working on our appeal at this point in time and we're hopeful that we can, at the city council, explain how our plan will meet their standards, both in zoning and in the comprehensive plan, he said.

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