P&Z tables Sagewillow school plans
Refined plans may
be submitted within a month
Express Staff Writer
overworked refrain—"Back to the drawing board!"—took on a
grimly realistic meaning Tuesday for The Community School and the
designers planning the proposed new Sagewillow elementary school campus
architect Mark Cork explains the layout of renderings for the
proposed Sagewillow campus during a site inspection Tuesday. Express
photo by Willy Cook
five-member Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously tabled
the school’s application for a conditional permit to construct the $12
million school on a five-acre portion of 30 acres donated to the school
by the Dumke family.
the application means the school and its architects and various
consulting firms must resolve issues raised by the P&Z and return
with the fixes. However, the school will not be required to go through
the public hearing process again that has made the proposed project one
of the most controversial in Sun Valley history.
are that the refined plans could be submitted within a month for another
Community School now operates the so-called Trail Creek campus, just a
stroll from the Sun Valley Lodge. If built, the new Sagewillow complex
would allow pre-school and K-5 classes at the Trail Creek campus to
Commissioner Blair Boand said he thinks the proposed school’s
"design, need and location" are appropriate, but stressed the
need to refine the plans to address neighborhood and traffic issues. Express
photo by Willy Cook
voting on Tuesday, the commission as well as school design teams and Sun
Valley city staffers drove to the site in the area of Arrowleaf and
Morning Star roads for a walk-around inspection.
for the school design teams, the simmering issue of playground and
associated noise became real when a resident of the Highlands
townhouses, perhaps 100 yards from the school site, walked out on the
deck of his home and began speaking on his cell phone.
conversation was audible to the P&Z commissioners and others in the
group. The incident would later be cited when the commission resumed its
deliberations an hour later.
the questions during the site inspection, as well as later during the
formal meeting at the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Lodge, focused on
traffic and noise issues.
of public hearings have drawn large numbers of supporters and opponents.
Those favoring the private school say it will be an asset to the
community. Those opposed generally believe that increased traffic and
noise associated with children at play will diminish the quality of life
in adjacent residential areas.
Valley city attorney Rand Peebles states that The Community School’s
Sagewillow campus application fulfills requirements for a
conditional-use permit request. Express photo by Willy Cook
obvious from the tone of commissioner questions early in the meeting
that they were not satisfied with the array of elements presented in the
project application involving traffic and noise suppression.
Blair Boand: "I have a stewardship to the community. People have a
right to quiet enjoyment of their property. Completely rebuilding
Arrowleaf Road (is the only way) to make this happen."
Labrum, project manager for The Community School: "Yes, we’ve
looked at other (road) alternatives, but (each) affected somebody,
transportation consultant Mike Riggs was asked about a transit plan to
move children by bus from the Trail Creek campus to Sagewillow, and he
explained the school’s two buses would be used on an optional basis,
Commissioner Nils Ribi rose literally almost out of his chair and
is a meaningful bus plan?"
chairman Mark Pynn then joined in and said that "this (mass
transportation) is the key issue in my mind, but I don’t see any
encouragement (by school officials) for mass transit."
likened the school's optional bus use idea as "similar to car
pooling (and) we all know that doesn’t work."
of how many and what type of extracurricular events would be held on the
campus was part of the commission’s focus, especially because events
would create after-school or weekend traffic and noise.
said they would be minimal, perhaps as few as 10, and all of them
associated with the school rather than simply unrelated community
when Pynn looked to his colleagues for indications of whether they
wanted to vote the project up or down, or simply table it until fixes to
the plans were provided, the sentiment favored the tabling.
Phil Usher led off by saying he’d gone "back and forth" in
his feelings about the project, and now had decided that the
"livability issue" involving traffic had to be resolved first.
"There’s a solution (to noise and traffic), but I haven’t seen
it (in the plans)."
"Traffic issues are paramount."
"Mandatory busing of every student, and teachers, too," from
the Trail Creek campus must be part of the improved planning.
Ken Herich: "I like the sound of children at play," but
traffic impacts unreasonably on the "surrounding"
one, the commissioners praised the concept of the school, the design of
the campus and buildings and the work of the architects.
hinted broadly that if the design team returns with solutions to school
traffic and noise, the plan is likely to be approved.