Make `em mind
Better to ask for forgiveness later than
permission now seems to be the motto of some developers in the valley. And
Neither valley cities nor the county have
enforcement positions within their planning and zoning departments.
Planners will investigate problems if someone calls them to their
attention, but there is no consistent enforcement. Worse, when problems
are found, elected officials rarely pursue penalties for violations.
The result is unfair and inconsistent
"don’t ask, don’t tell" enforcement of development
requirements. While planners may nitpick one developer for having a single
tree out of place, they are just as likely to overlook very serious
For example, a developer excavated an
estimated 10,000 cubic yards from a hillside in the Ketchum Warm Springs
area—five times the area originally estimated. The gaping hole left
neighbors fearful about what would happen to their homes if deep snows or
a lot of rain landed on the hillside.
No one at the city planning office could
answer their questions. No one could tell them why the gash was bigger
than any excavation anyone had ever seen in the area. They promised to
investigate—after the deed was done.
Blaine County recently experienced similar
problems when berms built in the highly visible Golden Eagle Ranch project
exceeded allowable heights—until someone complained.
No one likes government regulations, but
situations like these point out the need for enforcement. In the long run,
it would save everyone time and money by making it tougher to get
forgiveness than permission.