Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Gated neighborhoods ban eyed

Ketchum P&Z approves plan to limit roadway gates throughout city

Express Staff Writer

Ketchum P&Z Chairman Greg Strong

Ketchum planners are taking action to ensure the city does not become a maze of exclusive, gated neighborhoods.

In a unanimous vote this week, Ketchum Planning and Zoning commissioners endorsed a set of proposed policy changes that would make it illegal to install a gate on any private road or on any private driveway that provides access to more than one residence.

The policy changes endorsed by the P&Z must be approved by the City Council before they are enacted into law.

The proposal to change the policy came from the Ketchum Planning Department, which recommended that the city update its laws to make them compliant with one of the goals of the city?s comprehensive plan.

The 2001 Ketchum Comprehensive Plan states the city shall ?keep all public and private roads in Ketchum open for community access? and should ?not allow ?gated? communities.?

Commissioners wasted little time in choosing to endorse the new regulations, recognizing that numerous resort communities throughout the West have been overrun with private, gated neighborhoods that restrict public access.

P&Z Chairman Greg Strong said he recently encountered one such community on a trip to Southern California.

?I just went to Palm Springs, and after being there I don?t want to see another gate in my life,? he said.

Jolinda Saindon, who operates a massage and yoga business in Ketchum, said she has also witnessed a prevalence of gated neighborhoods in Southern California, and is ?totally against? having them in Ketchum.

?I didn?t move up here to live in a place with gated communities,? Saindon said. ?The whole sense of community just disintegrates.?

Technically, the policy changes endorsed Monday would prohibit gates on all private roads and private driveways that access more than one single-family residence. They would also prohibit gates on all public rights-of-way, unless approved by the City Council.

Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia supported the proposal but cautioned that some homeowners residing along private roads might choose to employ posting ?No trespassing? signs to discourage access, in lieu of a gate.

Garcia also questioned whether the new policy might infringe on individuals? property rights.

?As long as it?s in the interest of public health, safety and welfare, go nuts,? City Attorney Ben Worst advised the P&Z. ?You can do it.?

The City Council will likely consider the new policy next month.

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