Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

For the week of April 18 through April 24, 2001

County investigates Purdy cabin size

Express Staff Writer

Blaine County zoning administrator Deborah Vignes says the planning department will investigate allegations that a house built on Silver Creek land protected by a conservation easement is larger than approved, and is being operated not as a rental business as intended but as a private residence.

In a related decision, the planning department has denied rancher Nick Purdy’s request to extend expired deadlines to gain permits for building two more houses in the area.

That denial means Purdy would have to reapply to the county to build the remaining houses, something the Blaine County Citizens for Smart Growth advocacy group applauds because, group attorney Doug Werth said, it would allow the public to determine whether Purdy’s project is a "sham" or a "bona fide agricultural business."

In 1998, The Nature Conservancy and the Blaine County Board of Commissioners agreed to allow Purdy to build three rental cabins on the protected property as a way for Purdy to earn money and as a public benefit.

The plan caused a firestorm of controversy because it meant allowing additional development on property permanently protected from development by an easement Purdy had already entered into.

Now, with one house built at 3,782 square feet and valued at $305,000, Purdy and The Nature Conservancy are negotiating ways to resolve issues around the house being larger and taller than approved.

Additionally, Smart Growth founder Steve Wolper alleges that the house was actually built by George Argyros as a private residence, an important distinction that could result in a de facto subdivision of the land.

Wolper accuses Purdy of misrepresenting his plans to the county, making them out to be less than they really were to gain the county’s approval. Wolper says the issue is a good example of why the planning department needs an enforcement officer to inspect construction.

To prove that the completed house is indeed a rental cabin, Purdy submitted a guest list to the county. But in a three-page, April 10 letter to Purdy, Vignes states that in the future, Purdy must provide the county with certificates signed by the guests.

In her letter, Vignes states only that the planning department will "respond accordingly" if the investigation proves the allegations to be true.


Back to Front Page
Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.