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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2001 Express Publishing Inc.
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For the week of December 5 - 11, 2001


County P&Z OKs church in Cold Springs

Express Staff Writer

The congregation of the Light on the Mountain Spiritual Center has a new place to worship following a vote by the Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission to allow a home near the Cold Springs neighborhood to be converted into a church.

The controversial proposal barely passed on a three-to-two vote during a public hearing Thursday night in Hailey. Commission Chairwoman Suzanne Orb and Commissioner Judy Harrison voted against the proposal. Commissioners Dick Springs, Mark Gasenica and Joel Graff voted in favor. Commissioners Jerry Allred and Donald Nurge were absent.

Critics of the idea said the church would pave the way for more unwanted nonresidential development in the area a few miles south of Ketchum, and would disturb nearby residents with bright parking lot lights and added noise and traffic.

However, lawyer Ed Lawson, appearing for the first time on the congregationís behalf after two previous hearings left the matter undecided, pointed out that the county does not allow churches in any zoneóonly as a conditional use in residential zones. Therefore, the P&Z should approve this proposal.

Individual cities have their own rules concerning the locations of churches.

Lawson said other nonresidential uses already exist in the area in the form of a nursery and State Highway 75 and that the church would provide a "transitional" use between those and Cold Springs.

But "it is exactly the fact that the area is undefined that I am concerned about the church moving in and defining it," one of the approximately 40 residents who attended the hearing said.

Jay Coleman, an ex-P&Z commissioner who, along with a handful of other land-use planning advocates has recently criticized the commission as being too lax, asked for a definition of the intended character of the Cold Springs area. The P&Z did not offer a definition.

During the P&Zís review of the application, Commissioner Harrison said she was concerned about what effect the church could have on future development.

"What we do today will impact the future," she said.

Harrison and Chairwoman Orb also felt that a planned parking lot would be too close to the highway at less than 100 feet away.

"I hate to be opposed to something like this, but I see it as just not complying with the intended character of the area," Orb said.


The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.