Ketchum Council OKs riverside
Access to Big Wood River debated
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
Ketchum City Council members Monday, June
2, unanimously issued preliminary plat approval to a proposed new subdivision in
West Ketchum, after a long debate over how the city should ensure public access
to the Big Wood River.
With Councilman Maurice Charlat absent,
the panel voted 3-0 to advance a plan by John and Karin Davies to create six
residential lots from two parcels that cover approximately five acres in land
area. The two parcels at issue are located at 718 Wood River Drive and 901
Rocking Horse Road.
Called Rocking Ranch #4, the subdivision
calls for a private road, called Wood River Drive North, designed to access five
of the six proposed lots.
Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commissioners
granted conditional preliminary plat approval for the subdivision last Tuesday.
Council members Monday debated with city
staff whether the subdivision developers ought to be required to provide public
access through the area to the Big Wood River.
City Attorney Margaret Simms noted that
the land area borders on "sensitive" riparian lands owned by the federal Bureau
of Land Management.
Two neighbors of the subdivision testified
that an existing public access route to the river—located north of the proposed
subdivision—is already overused and is leading to degradation of the riverbank.
Council members ultimately determined that
the subdivision should provide a private, 10-foot-wide river-access easement for
its local landowners, but should not be required to include public access.
Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia said
private roads essentially create "de facto gated neighborhoods," which are
discouraged in the city’s comprehensive plan.