Sagewillow school plan prompts
By GREGORY FOLEY
Express Staff Writer
A group of homeowners in the
Sagewillow subdivision of Elkhorn has filed a lawsuit seeking to force
additional review of The Community School’s proposal to develop a new
campus in the neighborhood.
The lawsuit—which is the third to
dispute rulings on the controversial project—adds one more hurdle in the
Sun Valley-based private school’s long-term plans.
Lori Labrum, project manager for
the school, said this week that plans to proceed with developing a new
elementary-school campus on the school’s 30-acre Sagewillow property are
indefinitely on hold until the lawsuits are resolved.
The most recent suit directly
challenges an effort by The Community School to overcome objections to
the project by the Sun Valley-Elkhorn Association homeowners’ group.
In 5th District Court in Hailey on
March 15, the Sagewillow Homeowners Association filed a complaint
against the SVEA, seeking an injunction that prevents the SVEA from
allowing the Sagewillow campus to be found exempt from SVEA governance.
The suit is clearly in response to
a September 2003 suit by The Community School against the SVEA, in which
the school asked the court to legally conclude that the SVEA has no
binding authority over the Sagewillow property.
The debate over the project has
The city of Sun Valley last year
granted design-review approval and a conditional use permit to The
Community School to proceed with the first phase of the Sagewillow
project, which includes three buildings.
However, after the city approved
the project, the architectural committee of the SVEA declined to lend
its approval to the plans. The SVEA generally reviews the design of all
construction projects located on lands that are incorporated in its
In their suit, attorneys for The
Community School essentially argued that the Sagewillow property was
never annexed into the SVEA and is therefore not subject to SVEA
regulations and proceedings.
Their complaint asked the court to
confirm that The Community School holds "absolute fee-simple title" to
the Sagewillow site and to render a judgment that the SVEA "be forever
barred from asserting or claiming any right, title or interest" in the
In its winter 2004 newsletter, the
SVEA noted that its governing board in December 2003 "voted to
vigorously defend its interest in the Community School Sagewillow
SVEA officials this week said they
could not comment on the new lawsuit.
In a third suit still pending, a
contingent of homeowners along Arrowleaf Road—the only access road to
and from the Sagewillow campus—in April 2003 filed a complaint against
the city of Sun Valley for its decision to grant a conditional use
permit for the school project.
With the CUP, the city granted The
Community School permission to develop three buildings on the Sagewillow
site that would total approximately 21,000 square feet.
The buildings would include a new
"Community Room" building and a classroom building. In addition, the
existing stables on the Sagewillow property would be converted into an
administrative building and preschool.
The Community School is currently
seeking to gain city approval for an operational plan to conduct events
on the Sagewillow site. Approval of such a plan is a requirement of the
city’s broader approval of the project permit.
On Tuesday, March 23, Sun Valley
Planning and Zoning commissioners—amid objections from some Sagewillow
area residents—delayed approving a proposed events plan.
The P&Z is scheduled to review a
revised plan on April 27.