Medical office buildings, day-care facilities in the plan
One major problem that has yet to be resolved by county officials is
how to prevent
a comp plan change from allowing not only the McHanville medical uses,
but also unwanted commercial sprawl throughout the county.
By TRAVIS PURSER
Express Staff Writer
A group composed of Blaine County Planning and Zoning staff, county
commissioners and landowners yesterday took a major step toward rezoning the McHanville
area south of Ketchum.
By meetings end, the group had directed P&Z staff to draft a new
zoning ordinance for the area that will allow medical and high-density residential uses in
the area. The ordinance would also allow some existing businesses that dont fit
those categories to continue to operate.
The draft will require extensive review and final approval by the county
P&Z commissiona process that could take from several months to a year and a
half, according to P&Z staff. Initial P&Z consideration is tentatively scheduled
for June 20.
The rezone, officials say, would likely allow the controversial
40,000-square-foot medical office building proposed by St. Lukes Wood River Medical
Centerand denied by P&Z two weeks agoto become a permitted use in the
If so, the structure could be built without a public hearing process.
The rezone would, in effect, provide a second option in the event that a
likely St. Lukes appeal of the P&Z denial fails in the coming months.
Yesterdays meeting was the latest of about 10 informal workshops
that have been scheduled with increasing frequency over the past year.
According to P&Z staff, the meetings have been regularly attended by
St. Lukes planner John Gaeddert and McHanville landowners, but not by other members
of the public.
Public notices for the meetings have appeared on bulletin boards in the
Blaine County Courthouse, the Hailey Post Office and Atkinsons Market in Hailey, but
not in local media.
The notice called for a meeting "to discuss planning and zoning
issues"but didnt mention McHanville.
Commissioner Leonard Harlig, during an interview last Monday, said
thats because "Were just trying to get something down on paper that
people can review and amend.
"Rezones come about so seldom that I dont think theres a
formal process, but somebody has to put the work in."
Harlig said county officials, landowners or any member of the public can
submit a draft zoning ordinance for consideration by county P&Z.
Both St. Lukes and McHanville landowners have wanted to rezone the
area for years, Harlig said, but long-standing, insurmountable county requirements have
The most important requirement, Harlig said, was construction of an access
road in the area that would concentrate traffic entering and exiting Highway 75 to one or
Harlig said construction of the road by St. Lukes last year
initiated the latest round of rezone meetings. Recent denial of St. Lukes proposed
medical office building is not a factor in the rezone, he said.
Nevertheless, the recent workshops have resulted in a list of possible
medical uses that include medical office buildings, as well as child-care facilities,
another kind of building St. Lukes officials have said they are tentatively
P&Z administrator Deborah Vignes said during a telephone interview
last week that a zoning change in McHanville to allow medical uses would require a change
to the countys comprehensive plan. That change would need to allow commercial uses
outside city limits, something that is currently not allowed by the comp plan.
One major problem that has yet to be resolved by county officials is how
to prevent such a comp plan change from allowing not only the McHanville medical uses, but
also unwanted commercial sprawl throughout the county.
Harlig addressed that concern briefly during yesterdays
hour-and-a-half-long meeting when he indicated he was in favor of imposing some
restrictions that "may not be very popular."
"It seems to me that one of the ways you can [control commercial
sprawl] is to allow permitted uses up to a point," Harlig said, without elaborating
on how to determine that point.
St. Lukes land in McHanville is currently zoned Recreational
Development, which is designed to guide development that is directly related to
recreation. The Rotarun Ski Area west of Hailey and the Warm Springs Golf Course, for
example, are in Recreational Development zones.
County officials amended the text of the Recreational Development zoning
ordinance in 1998 to allow hospitals to be built in that zone if approved during an
extensive public review process. St. Lukes gained that approval for its hospital in
the spring of 1999.