By KEVIN WISER
Express Staff Writer
County and Ketchum city officials have agreed to form a committee to
accelerate planning in the McHanville area, south of Ketchum.
With construction of St. Lukes Hospital well on its way, county
and city representatives met at the old Blaine County Courthouse on Thursday to discuss
the areas future in light of the new facility.
Members of the McHanville Landowners Association, consisting of 11
property owners, also attended, led by their spokesman, John McDonald.
Though the meeting was legally noticed according to state lawthat
is, posted at Ketchum City Hall and at the old Blaine County Courthouse five days prior to
the meetingthe public was not notified in newspaper legal sections.
All those participating at the meeting agreed the time has come to plan
that future, but the nature of development in the area remains a matter of debate. County
Commissioner Mary Ann Mix its time for decision makers to sit down at the table,
face to face, to resolve issues.
The new committee will make recommendations to the county for zoning in
the area. Expected to be made up of eight to 12 members, the committee will consist of
Ketchum council members, county commissioners and McHanville property owners. The panel is
scheduled to be in place within a couple of weeks.
Main issues that surfaced during Thursdays discussion among the
county commissioners, Ketchum City Council members, McHanville property owners and St.
Lukes officials were:
The 9.15 acre strip of land in question is
situated between state Highway 75 and the hospital site. The area is located in the county
but is in Ketchums area of impact.
Pursuant to an impact agreement between the county and city, the county
has jurisdiction over the McHanville area but takes comments from the city of Ketchum.
Last month, the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission recommended the
creation of a hospital overlay zone that would limit hospital related uses to no more than
10 percent of the total land area of McHanville. The commissioners stated concerns that
any development beyond that amount would harm the appearance of the south entrance to
Ketchum. The commission also recommended that the area be annexed by Ketchum.
Ketchum City Councilwoman Sue Noel, who is in favor of the annexation
of McHanville by the city of Ketchum, said there shouldnt be a cap on development of
medical related facilities in McHanville. She said the area is a natural place for such
development to occur, and that it could do so while protecting residential uses and
enhancing the entrance to Ketchum.
Noel said she favors creating a hospital overlay zone in McHanville,
which would uphold the rights of property owners who have been waiting to develop their
land. Mix also expressed support for an overlay district that would allow a sufficient
amount of hospital-related uses to support St. Lukes hospital.
McHanville property owners also spoke against putting a limitation on
"We have to be careful in not getting too specific on uses in
McHanville," said landowner Emil Capik.
However, Ketchum City Councilwoman Chris Potters said she would like to
see enough planning to avoid a "free-for-all run on development in the area."
Potters said development should be limited in order to preserve the rural character of the
area and discourage urban sprawl.
McHanville property owner John McDonald, who is also Ketchums
postmaster, said McHanvilles 11 property owners agree they do not want the area
annexed by Ketchum. He said a hostile annexation wouldnt be in anyones
Mix commented that the discussion didnt indicate a consensus that
Ketchum should annex McHanville, and noted that property owners are generally opposed to
forced annexation. Mix emphasized that property owners should be part of continuing
County Commissioner Leonard Harlig said it isnt important who
owns the property or whether Ketchum annexes McHanville.
"Its important that the use of the property serves the
overall community welfare," Harlig said.
Harlig said land use issues for the area should be confronted by first
legitimizing the existing, non-conforming commercial uses in McHanville; second, by
providing for long-term needs related to the hospital and health care; and third, by
preserving residential uses.
Ketchum City Councilman Dave Hutchinson said there is no conflict
between Ketchum and the county in planning for McHanville.
"Our comp plans are similar regarding land use and
development," Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson agreed it was "time to get down to details" in
planning for McHanville.
County officials had previously discussed the possibility that
increased development at McHanville may require amendment of the countys
comprehensive plan, which directs commercial development to occur in cities. However, Mix
said Thursday that would not be necessary since McHanville is designated by the county
comprehensive plan as a special planning area due to its existing commercial nature.
Current zoning in McHanville is R-4 Medium Density Residential. Under
that zoning, the existing light industrial and commercial uses in the area are
Mix agreed that the non-conforming uses in McHanville should be
legitimized and asked Tom Bergin of the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Department how
that could be accomplished.
Bergin said the special planning designation for McHanville is to allow
for mixed uses in the future. He said there is nothing in the comp plan or zoning
ordinance to prevent a hybrid zone or multiple uses in McHanville.
Property owner McDonald said proper zoning in McHanville, which would
incorporate adequate setbacks to provide for attractive landscaping, would make it
worthwhile for people to invest there.
"We would like to clean up the area, to improve it and make it
look better," McDonald said. "Unless were given the tools to do that,
its not going to happen."
The square footage of the hospital facility equals nearly 25 percent of
the McHanville area. St. Lukes officials have also applied to county planners for a
permit to construct a 24,000-square-foot medical office building accommodating up to 15
However, St. Lukes Hospital administrator Jon Moses said that due
to the growing number of physicians that want to have office buildings near the hospital,
St. Lukes would request that the proposed facility be expanded to 40,000 square