The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission was right last week when
it voted 5-1 to reject St. Lukes bid to build a 40,000-square-foot medical office
building south of Ketchum.
The P&Z did what its supposed to do. It evaluated the commercial
building based on consistent county standards that apply equally to everyone.
Designers gave the P&Z plenty of reasons to reject the MOB. Its
hard to hide a big multi-story commercial building. Its hard to squeeze that much
building into the space available.
The P&Z was concerned about the buildings size, its 40-foot
height, increased traffic, and how it would change the area around it. It also based the
rejection on staff reports that found the still-under-construction hospital and office
building together would not have enough parking.
St. Lukes officials are still hopping mad. They shouldnt be.
County officials are not rubber stamps. Blaine County has given St.
Lukes plenty of special treatment.
It approved a site that was never intended for a hospital.
It expedited development with a tortured amendment to its zoning
It did not force the hospital to go through a rezoning processwhich
cut six months to a year off development time.
It approved total relocation of a wetland for a decorative pond, a rare
It devoted hundreds of hours of planners time to the hospital and MOB,
scheduled an untold number of special meetings and put other projects on the back burner.
With its 5-1 vote, the P&Z delivered a strong message. The question
now is whether anyone will hear it.