Packed house protests downtown plan
Hearing continues tomorrow
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Ketchum should forget about reducing the size of buildings in its downtown
and should stick with the existing boundaries of its downtown core.
That was the prevailing opinion voiced Monday night when over 100 people
packed City Hall for a hearing on a newly proposed comprehensive plan before the Ketchum
Planning and Zoning Commission.
Commissioner Peter Gray said the meeting was "very, very
It was a stark contrast to the contentious first hearing on the new plan
held two weeks ago. In that meeting, locals took turns blasting the plan for
inconsistencies and poor proposals for downtown.
On Monday, courteous and orderly discussion prevailed between the P&Z
and hearing participants
In the "core of the core" concept in the plan, planners drew an
arbitrary circle around a portion of the citys downtown. The plan calls for the size
of buildings in the core of the core to remain as they are now.
In areas outside the circle, the plan calls for almost a 60% reduction in
the size of buildings allowed there.
The majority of those who testified at Mondays meeting said the city
should deal with objections to new buildings by adopting more stringent design standards,
not by reducing size nor by restricting where new commercial buildings may be built in the
"Its a design review issue," resident Jed Gray told the
commission. "Let the core, as it was designed years ago, be what its supposed
Also at issue Monday was how to define Ketchum. The new plan calls for
preservation of a "small-town, Western feel."
"Theres only one wooden sidewalk left in town, and thats
in front of Starbucks," Ketchum resident Lloyd Betts said. "Im sure if I
went there and tied my horse up for a while, hed have a yellow chalk mark on his
The majority of those at the meeting said they do not define Ketchum as
"Western," and the reference to it in "small-town, Western feel"
should be dropped.
The general feeling at the meeting seemed to be that Ketchum architecture
is eclectic. Some said the communitys character is more than that.
"The atmosphere here is not bricks and mortar. Its the
people," said Dick Fenton. "Preserving atmosphere is preserving attitudes."
Promotion of affordable housing in the community core was another
controversial topic, with about half of those at the meeting in favor of it and half
"The City Councils going to have fun with this one,"
Commissioner Gray said. The commission decided to send a plan provision calling on the
city to promote affordable housing in the downtown on to the council.
Following the meeting, Gray said it is the commissions goal to pass
the downtown section of the comprehensive plan on to the council by an April deadline set
by the council in an emergency ordinance.
The ordinance also temporarily reduced the size of buildings that may be
constructed anywhere in the downtown.
For the rest of the plan, the commission "will try to make
time," Gray said.
The public hearing on the downtown section of the new comprehensive plan
will continue tomorrow at 5:30 p.m. at Ketchum City Hall.