The Ketchum City Council expressed tacit support this week for a plan to ensure Ketchum does not become a maze of exclusive, gated neighborhoods.
After a brief public hearing Monday, Dec. 6, two council members said they are generally in favor of a set of draft 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. Two other council members had no reaction.
"I don't want to see gated communities here," said Councilwoman Christina Potters. "I think it would be a bad thing for the town."
Moments later, Councilman Baird Gourlay offered a one-line simile to express his feelings on the matter.
"A gated community is like jumbo shrimp. It's an oxymoron."
The proposal to change the policy came from the Ketchum Planning Department, which recommended the city update its laws to make them conform to 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."
The Planning and Zoning Commission endorsed the policy change earlier this fall. Some P&Z members said they did not want Ketchum to resemble certain other resort communities in the West that have been overrun with private, gated neighborhoods that restrict public access.
Technically, the proposed policy changes 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 specifically approved by the City Council.
The council is expected to vote on the proposed gate policy at a future meeting.