Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Sun Villas discussion raises safety concerns


By MEGAN THOMAS
Express Staff Writer

Rendering exhibits scaled down version of the proposed Sun Villas project. Rendering courtesy of Michael Doty and Associates

The project involves four multi-story residential buildings on a 4.26-acre parcel in Elkhorn on Village Way between the Elkhorn Village and Sunburst Condominiums and in front of the Indian Springs Condominiums.


Unable to resolve their concerns, the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission tabled the application of the Sun Villas development for a design review and subdivision application and scheduled a new hearing next month.

The commission focused on public safety, access and community housing issues surrounding the project.

During the Tuesday, Dec. 14, meeting, Ketchum-based architect Michael Doty presented the Sun Villas project on behalf of Elkhorn Resort LLC. The project involves four multi-story residential buildings on a 4.26-acre parcel in Elkhorn on Village Way between the Elkhorn Village and Sunburst Condominiums and in front of the Indian Springs Condominiums.

In 2002, developers submitted an application for Sun Villas requesting a 111-unit development. The application was later downsized to 105 units. A further downsized application followed in September 2003 calling for 97 units.

At a Nov. 9 meeting, the developer presented a scaled down version of the proposal with 83 units, including four community-housing units and a public day spa. The modifications included decreasing the height of the two structures by 11 feet.

During the most recent meeting, Doty proposed to eliminate the day spa, and replace it with four additional community-housing units. Doty estimated the change would bring the community housing to 5 percent of the project's total square footage.

The commission indicated they approved the change use of space.

The concern of the commission turned to public safety issues regarding the east exit of the underground parking garage. The proposed garage exit opens onto the bike path on Village Way.

During the November meeting, Paul Connolly, a resident of the neighboring Ridge Condominiums presented a drawing that detailed inadequate stopping times of cars exiting the garage for bicyclists on the bike path.

In response to concerns raised over the garage exit, the applicant returned with a redesign to the garage.

"The sight lines have been vastly improved," Doty commented.

The redesign included changes to the slope of the garage ramp, adjustment to the building walls adjacent to the bike path, an added garage door and warning sensor lights on the bike path.

The applicant provided a table from the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials that indicated minimum distances that bicyclists need in order to see an oncoming vehicle. The calculations considered the slope of the bike path, provided for wet conditions and calculated stopping distances at various speeds.

Commissioner Joan Lamb also suggested physical impediments on the bike path.

"Why should this be the only place in the city of Sun Valley where there are physical impediments on the bike path," Nils Ribi responded. "They should design (the garage) safe."

Doty responded, clarifying that the design provided adequate stopping distances for a bicyclist traveling at 30 miles an hour.

"We did not bring you a design we felt was unsafe. We don't want anyone to get hurt," Doty remarked.

Commissioner Ribi motioned to table the matter, citing too many open items deserving of consideration. The commission voted the motion down.

In response to Ribi's failed motion, Commissioner Ken Herich motioned to approve the design review application with a list of 19 conditions attached to the motion.

The motion also failed to pass, with Chairman Phil Usher and Commissioners Ribi and John Gaeddert in opposition.

The meeting concluded with Gaedert motioning to table the design review until the Jan. 25 meeting and directing the applicant to address concerns regarding the bike path, community housing and access to an adjacent roads.

The motion passed.




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