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Copyright © 2003 Express Publishing Inc.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2004


Ketchum debates hotel regulations

Changes to code eyed to encourage new projects

Express Staff Writer

On the same day developer Brian Barsotti publicly announced that he would likely abandon his plan to build an 80-room luxury hotel in central Ketchum, the Ketchum City Council engaged in a lengthy debate over how to better encourage hotel development in the city.

The City Council on Monday, June 7, reviewed a draft ordinance that proposes to amend the city zoning code by relaxing the design restrictions governing hotel developments in the Community Core zoning district. The hotel standards were last revised in 2001.

The most substantive change proposed to the council Monday would increase the maximum allowable height for hotel projects in the downtown core from 40 feet to 47 feet.

In addition, the proposed new language would eliminate the ability of developers to get waivers to all restrictions established for hotel developments.

The changes to the hotel regulations for the CC zone were ordered last year by the City Council, after the city became deeply divided over a proposal by Barsotti to build a 59-foot hotel on a CC-zoned property along Main Street. The project required a waiver to the city’s building height limit.

Barsotti told council members that he believes the city must go further to encourage hotel development. He said the city ought to abandon language in its zoning code that limits the development of fractional-ownership units in hotels.

"If you look at Aspen, (Colo.), right now, there are three or four hotels being proposed and all of them are fractionals," he said.

Tim Eagan, principal of Eagan Real Estate, also encouraged city officials to provide greater incentives to hotel developers.

"You need hotels," he said. "You’re going to have Sun Valley (Co.) controlling all of the rooms and you’re going to be a way station."

Former Blaine County Commissioner Len Harlig urged the council to clarify all of the subjective review criteria in the city code.

"It shouldn’t be a vote on every project based on the number of people that come before you and say ‘Yea’ or ‘Nay,’" Harlig said.

The city intends to resume its review of its hotel regulations in the coming weeks.


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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.