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For the week of September 27 through October 3, 2000

Elkhorn parcel to
stay open

Owner warns of a ‘taking of property rights’


Barry Luboviski, attorney for the Sagewillow Homeowners Association, argued that the P&Z simply made a mistake in 1994 when it designated the Bluff Parcel as residential on the land-use map.


By PETER BOLTZ
Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley City Council on Thursday made it nearly impossible for Johns-Manville Co. to sell the Bluff Parcel for top dollar to a developer for residential use. The Denver-based company was a pioneer developer of the Elkhorn area.

Council members unanimously approved an application by the Sagewillow Homeowners Association to change the property’s land-use designation from residential to agricultural and recreational.

The Bluff Parcel is a 2.87-acre property located inside the curve of Horseshoe Road in Elkhorn. It is to the west of Sagewillow homeowners and to the north of the Bluff Condominiums.

A public dispute over allowed use of the land began at an Aug. 22 meeting of the city’s planning and zoning commission.

At that meeting, it became apparent that although the Bluff Parcel was zoned Outdoor Recreational, the land-use map designation included potential residential use.

With that potential in mind, Johns-Manville found someone who would buy the property if it could be given one of the city’s several residential zoning designations. Johns-Manville attorney John Hohnhorst told council members that depending on allowed density, the buyer would pay Johns-Manville between $800,000 and $1.5 million.

The P&Z, however, made Johns-Manville’s rezone application moot by sending the city council a recommendation to change the Bluff Parcel’s land-use map designation to conform with its zoning.

Hohnhorst called the redesignation a "taking of land," a legal term meaning the owners would suffer a substantial reduction in market value for which the municipality could be liable.

"You’re buying a view corridor for these property owners," Hohnhorst contended.

Barry Luboviski, attorney for the Sagewillow Homeowners Association, argued that the P&Z simply made a mistake in 1994 when it designated the Bluff Parcel as residential on the land-use map.

"It’s a ridgeline with 20 percent slopes on all sides," Luboviski said, making it "unsuitable" for development. Furthermore, he contended, the land was originally "all open space," and it was always supposed to be open he said.

In their comments, several homeowners implied that they relied on that when they bought their properties.

 

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