P&Z approves new design review ordinance
Council to review measure next month
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
Its been months in the making, but the Ketchum Planning and Zoning
Commission finally voted on and unanimously approved new design review criteria for the
citys downtown core Monday night.
Now itll be up to the Ketchum City Council to put the finishing
touches on the summer-long project, which was initiated in response to construction of
buildings the citys officials deemed too large for the resort citys small-town
"Theres no question we need to change it," Councilman
David Hutchinson said in regard to the citys design review ordinance at a meeting
early this summer.
After members of the public rehashed the entire debate, digging up issues
that had been laid to rest months ago, the P&Z settled on a scale of floor area ratios
(FARs) the city will useif the council approves themto help control building
FAR, simply put, is a buildings square footage divided by its lot
The P&Z endorsed a base FAR of 1.3 and an incentive of 1.8 for
developers providing at least 35 percent affordable housing as part of a downtown project.
Formerly the city allowed a base FAR of 1.4 with a bonus of up to 2.0 for
developers who provided affordable housing or underground parking.
The proposed ordinance gives developers the option of building their
affordable housing units off site. But if they choose to do so, they are required to build
the affordable components at a ratio of 1.5 units for every one that would have been
Instead of pursuing underground parking as an incentive, the P&Z
decided to mandate that buildings over a 1.3 FAR, and that are built on double lots or
larger, include underground parking.
Commissioners Peter Gray and Susan Scovell said they were concerned that
an incentive up to 1.8 would be too high, resulting in buildings that are still too big
Ketchum Realtor Dick Fenton, however, reminded the commission that other
new criteria, established with the help of consultant Nore Winter over the summer, will
change the way buildings are designed, producing more handsome structures at similar
"Lets take advantage of what weve learned. Lets not
be afraid of our mistakes of the past," he said.
Among the policies contained in the ordinance that will further regulate
commercial building designs are a 25 percent open space requirement (based on lot size), a
10- to 13-foot setback from all streets, horizontal wall break requirements and a
requirement that buildings third floors must be set back 12 feet from the floor
below them on any street front.
When someone asked how the new standards are going to work with the new
FARs, P&Z Chairman Peter Ripsom said, "We just have to go for it."
Building heights will be limited to 30 feet for two story structures with
flat roofs and 40 feet for buildings with gabled roofs. Three story buildings will be
limited to 40 feet, whether flat roofed or gabled.
The proposed ordinance also contains another very interesting proposal.
"Transferable development rights" would be instituted to help
preserve "community historic structures," buildings 50 years or older.
On lots containing such structures, "a portion of the development
potential of any property within the [downtown] may be transferred to a designated
receiving site within the [downtown]," the proposed ordinance reads.
The receiving property can get an increased FAR up to a maximum of 1.8.
The right can be transferred from a lot owned by one person to one owned by another.
Ketchums usually squawky contingent of developers and Realtors was
conspicuously silent on the proposal.
Fenton, explaining the concept to Ketchum lawyer and developer Brian
Barsotti, said he could transfer development rights to a property to achieve a 1.8 FAR
"instead of providing affordable housing."
His read of the ordinance went unchallenged by the commission.
The driving force behind the new policies was two-fold. The city wants
smaller buildings and affordable housing, Commissioner Scovell said.
"But make no mistake," Ketchum city attorney Margaret Simms
said. "This is not the citys solution to affordable housing. This is just one
The Ketchum City Council is scheduled to review the ordinance on Oct. 2,
Oct. 16 and at a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting during the week of Oct. 23. The Oct. 2
meeting will begin at 6 p.m.