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For the week of May 24 through May 30, 2000

Message on the MOB

The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission was right last week when it voted 5-1 to reject St. Luke’s bid to build a 40,000-square-foot medical office building south of Ketchum.

The P&Z did what it’s 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. It’s hard to hide a big multi-story commercial building. It’s hard to squeeze that much building into the space available.

The P&Z was concerned about the building’s 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. Luke’s officials are still hopping mad. They shouldn’t be.

County officials are not rubber stamps. Blaine County has given St. Luke’s 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 ordinance.

It did not force the hospital to go through a rezoning process—which cut six months to a year off development time.

It approved total relocation of a wetland for a decorative pond, a rare occurrence.

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.


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