Boise Demolitions

A sign offers lots for sale on a recently cleared property along Cloverdale Road in Boise, Monday, Feb. 17, 2020.

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BOISE — The city of Boise is considering an updated demolition ordinance that would require contractors to account for recyclable materials.

The proposed ordinance would repeal and replace existing city code related to demolitions. The goal of the new ordinance is to divert recyclable materials from the city's landfill, a priority for the Boise City Council and Mayor Lauren McLean. 

The new ordinance would require demolition contractors submit a waste management plan to the city's planning department before a demolition permit is approved. The plan would need an estimation of recyclable materials as well as evidence the contractor has a plan to sell the materials to a reuse store or organization. 

"We want an estimation proposal upfront when they apply, so they're looking at the job thinking about what can be recycled, reused," said Jason Blais, building official with Boise's Planning and Development Services department.

The city has been considering such an ordinance for some time. Last year, McLean told the Idaho Press she has long supported new rules limiting demolition permits and that an ordinance was in the works. The city issues an average 120 demolition permits annually. About 70% are residential demolitions while 30% are commercial.

The proposed recycling requirements, which were discussed at Tuesday's City Council meeting, come amid a sometimes-heated debate over city demolition policies. City leaders and advocates say limiting demolition permits — which currently can be attained in a matter of days — can help preserve historic buildings and affordable housing.

The city council last month approved a code change requiring demolitions undergo Design Review approval, a process by which city staff and sometimes the public Design Review Committee review building applications to ensure they meet city policies and goals. 

Dave Roe, owner of American Wrecking, a local demolition company, told the Idaho Press there are pros and cons to the recycling requirements. His company already recycles "everything we possibly can within economic reason," such as concrete, asphalt, brick, dirt and wood. Some general contractors that American Wrecking works with have similar requirements to account for recyclable materials, Roe said. 

But Roe expects the new Boise requirements will extend the time it takes to attain a permit, a process that's already slowed down in recent months.

"It is really a mess, and takes a long time to get a permit," he said. "You used to go down to City Hall, and in 15 minutes you walked out with your permit. Now it takes two weeks just to get it done."

The new recycling ordinance could be ready for the council mid-March, Blais told council members Tuesday. 

Ryan Suppe is the Boise City Hall and Treasure Valley business reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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