opposition to McHanville
and GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writers
proposed rezone of McHanville met with scathing criticism from
landowners there last week, Blaine County is soliciting expert advice on
whether the area is suitable for affordable housing.
dealership, excavation business and mobile homes that occupy the 9-acre
parcel next to St. Luke’s Wood River Medical Center are generally
viewed as out of place and an unsightly southern entrance to Ketchum.
county has been trying for years to upgrade the area and is now
considering creating an Urban Residential and Health Services zone to
bring that about. The zoning would allow business uses associated with
the hospital and provide incentives to developers to build high-density
affordable housing. Acknowledging that the current R-.4 zoning has only
resulted in stagnation, the county floated the proposed rezone with the
intent of prompting landowners to sell their properties for the
presumably more profitable new uses.
the first public hearing on the proposal, before the county planning and
zoning commission Thursday, indicated that substantial obstacles exist.
Landowners told the P&Z that the proposed accepted uses are
insufficient for them to recoup their investments in their land and
lobbied to be allowed wider commercial uses.
is planned obsolescence for the McHanville property owners," said
Kim Nilsen, owner of the lot containing KD Excavation. "It’s a
wonderful philanthropic idea, but we invested money there, and I’m not
willing to give my money away so somebody can have affordable
resident Henry Dean, who said he has developed affordable housing
projects elsewhere, told the P&Z that McHanville property values
prohibit a developer from selling units at a profit within the county
housing commission’s price guidelines.
resident David Harris added that few people would want to live between
Highway 75 and the hospital.
put high-density residential there is just misguided," Harris said.
to the property owners’ requests to open up the area to more general
commercial use, County Planner Linda Haavik pointed out that the county’s
comprehensive plan says such uses belong in the cities.
a tough one for us to get over," she said.
of Ketchum has also expressed opposition to more commercial use in
McHanville. In fact, during a meeting Monday, the city’s P&Z
agreed that even ambulance facilities and more medical offices should
not be allowed in the area.
have to be emphatic," Commissioner Rod Sievers said. "The
danger is that the hospital could buy up all these pieces and build
another office building, and that’s not what we want."
Planning Administrator Harold Moniz said Ketchum’s goal should be to
only allow uses in the area that are essential to the operation of the
hospital. Going beyond those uses could pull businesses from Ketchum’s
downtown, he said.
conclusion, Haavik made a general request for expert advice from anyone
knowledgeable on the profitability of real estate development and
the answer is that we’re going to get nothing, we want to know
that," she said. "We’ve got a big, big balancing act here.
So we ask for your help."
P&Z will hold further meetings on the subject on Nov. 7 and 14.