Friday, July 22, 2005

Sun Valley unveils Comp Plan

Blueprint became critical look at city's lands

Express Staff Writer

A packed house crowed into Carol's Dollar Mountain Lodge on Tuesday, July 19, to review the recently completed draft of Sun Valley's 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update.

"The comprehensive plan is a land use planning guide, stating when we want to get there and how we want to get there," Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson said.

The mayor welcomed approximately 100 citizens to a "Town Hall Meeting" to explain the major aspects, recent updates and maps contained in the city's primary guiding document.

The city of Sun Valley's current comprehensive plan was first adopted in 1978 and updated in 1994. Work on the 2005 update began in April 2004, guided by the Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee and various consultants.

After evaluating and incorporating the ideas, the steering committee handed the final draft of the document to the P&Z at a July 7 work session. The P&Z begins the first formal evaluation of the plan Aug. 2 during a public hearing. The commission will soon thereafter likely pass to the City Council a recommendation to approve the plan.

The plan centers on three organizational principles—preservation of community character, growth management and regional cooperation. The principles define goals, objectives and action items to guide development for the next 10 years.

One of the important changes included in the plan is the designation of a priority-based timeline to implement action items. Other major changes contained in the plan call for an annual review and revisions of the Future Land Use Planning Map.

"To get the goals, objectives and actions items to really work, we need the maps," said Nils Ribi, steering committee member and P&Z chair.

Ribi led the discussion of the proposed Future Land Use Map that accompanies the plan. The map, a general land management guide, became the focus of the meeting.

"More than an update, (the plan) became a critical look at the land in the city," Ribi said.

The city specifically mapped six parcels of land owned by the Sun Valley Co. The city mapped the land planning areas in coordination with the company, which has been preparing its future development master plan.

The maps designate six parcels—the Sun Valley Resort Village Core, Gun Club, Horseman's Center and the Community School, Dollar Mountain, River Run and Sun Valley Road gateway—as prominent land parcels that require detailed attention.

At the meeting, citizens focused their comments on the gateway parcel that includes Penny Hill. The gateway lands generally surround the city's entrance area on the west side of Sun Valley Road from the city's Meadows Parcel to the intersection of Saddle Road and Dollar Road, and along the east side of Sun Valley Road from the Red Barn to the Horseman's Center.

Sun Valley Co. General Manager Wally Huffman called the area, "probably the most sensitive piece of land in all of Sun Valley."

The gateway land-use planning map calls for open space, stretching the length of Sun Valley Road to Dollar Road. The open-space land-use designation precludes development. Open space is a noteworthy new category, one of four additional land classifications.

The open space designation along Sun Valley Road excludes the Meadows Parcel. The Meadows Parcel is classified as public with a park.

"I can't quite square how we are retaining the character of Sun Valley with this plan," city resident Karen Reinheimer said.

Ribi responded, "We tried to preserve at the greatest extent the view corridor and open space while also allowing the landowner his development rights."

Previously, the majority of gateway lands owned by Sun Valley Co. were designated agricultural/recreation. Huffman said the classification would have allowed development of recreational facilities such as tennis courts.

In the Sun Valley gateway land planning area 125 single-family and townhouse units are allowed as the maximum allowable density. The development is designated as low-density residential, three single-family homes per acre, located behind the Meadows Parcel and behind the Sun Valley barn.

To maintain open space on Penny Hill, the committee shifted residential development rights from the hill to the outside corridors. Sun Valley Co. owns the Penny Hill land, which under current zoning allows the development of 112 units.

Color maps of the areas are available for viewing at City Hall or on the city's Web site.

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