Residents shun development bonuses
"When you give these bonuses for architects to play with,
were going to get airplanes when you asked for submarines."
Pawan Mehra, Sun Valley resident
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Of nearly 60 local residents who packed Ketchum City Hall on Monday night
to comment on a draft of proposed design review standards, most supported the tighter
According to findings in the draft standards, which were collected from
locals this spring and summer, Ketchum residents wish to preserve the citys
small-town character, definable neighborhoods, mature landscaping, a blend of mountain and
valley features and an eclectic downtown area.
The design review standards, once adopted, will regulate everything from
building height, materials that may be used, to the amount of open space that will be
required on a lot.
They call for preserving natural features, connecting open spaces to
produce larger areas, encouraging building materials that establish a pedestrian scale,
using finishes and colors that are compatible with traditional buildings, making sure a
buildings entrance is clearly defined and minimizing storm water runoff.
And thats just a smidgen of whats in the document.
On Monday, the public focused primarily on buildings sizes and
Nearly all who spoke said they oppose the draft standards proposal
to offer incentives to developers who build affordable housing, despite their general
approval of the document. In fact, they said they dont want to see bonuses or
incentives as part of the new standards at all.
"When you give these bonuses for architects to play with, were
going to get airplanes when you asked for submarines," Sun Valley resident Pawan
Mehra told the Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission, which presided over the meeting.
The citys existing design standards offer increased development
densities to developers who build affordable housing or underground parking.
The draft standards, compiled by Ketchums design review consultant
Nore Winter, do away with underground parking but maintain affordable housing as a viable
Ketchum planning administrator Lisa Horowitz pointed out that several
rounds of redrafting are still to come. The standards are projected to be completed in
Under the current draft proposal, developers could build to a floor area
ratio (FAR) of 1.4. With affordable housing, however, developers could build to a 1.75
FAR is a buildings floor area divided by its lot size.
Ketchums existing standards allow a developer to build to a 2.0 FAR
with underground parking or affordable housing.
Some at the meeting said the city should do away with FARs altogether.
"You can have a two-to-three-story building thats beautiful and
you can have an itty bitty building thats ugly as hell," Ketchum resident Micky
Garcia told the commission.
The issue, he said, isnt about FARs. Its about architectural
design, which the proposed standards handle well, he said.
"Its amazing to watch Americans come in here and try to hunker
[from urbanization]," he said. "This town has got to change. Tallness and
bigness [arent the issue]."
In general, residents said they approve of the draft standards. Nearly
everyone who commented thanked Winter for his involvement in the process and admired the
progress thats been made.
Some, however, said the FAR limits will depreciate property values
throughout the city.
"Im having a hard time being positive about this," Ketchum
property owner Linda Badell told the commission. "Youre devaluing our property.
If you reduce the FAR, whats going to happen to the little people inside?"
Badell said a decrease in property resale and development
valuesbased on decreased FARswill be passed along to tenants, thereby forcing
the "little people" out of the local economy.
Hers was a minority opinion, however.
Ketchum resident David Meyer countered by saying, "This is an attempt
to maximize buildings without trashing the town. If the town is huge, investment values
In the coming week, the P&Z will work to write the draft standards in
ordinance form rather than the easy-to-read and understand documents Winter has prepared
Mondays meeting was the latest in a series of public meetings that
have been held on the topic over the course of the summer. More are yet to come.