The Ketchum City Council this week unanimously passed an emergency ordinance aimed at ensuring the city does not become a patchwork of exclusive, gated communities.
In a quick and quiet decision Monday, Dec. 20, council members voted 3-0 in favor of a new law that makes it illegal to install a gate on any private road or on any private driveway that provides access to more than one residence. Councilwoman Christina Potters was absent.
The council issued several votes on the issue. They not only decided to move forward with the ordinance, they opted to declare the situation an emergency, waived three public readings of the ordinance text and adopted it into law on the spot.
Councilman Baird Gourlay said he had "no problem moving it through quickly," noting that he believes the term "gated community" is an "oxymoron."
The proposal to change the city's gate policy came from the Ketchum Planning Department, which recommended 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."
The Planning and Zoning Commission endorsed the policy changes in the 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 policy changes prohibit gates on all private roads and private driveways that access more than one single-family residence. They also prohibit gates on all public rights-of-way, unless specifically approved by the City Council.
The P&Z and the City Council both held public hearings on the ordinance, with support for the new law clearly outweighing opposition.