Friday, November 4, 2005

County wants to know how to grow

Planning survey road shows seek public advice

Express Staff Writer

County Planning and Zoning Commissioner Judy Harrison, right, reviews a county survey about growth with concerned citizen Tim Nelson Wednesday during the 13th annual Business Showcase, in the Limelight Room of the Sun Valley Inn. Looking on is Blaine County Commissioner Sarah Michael. Photo by David N. Seelig

From Ketchum to Carey, county planners have been on the road during the past two weeks with their future planning outreach campaign called "Blaine County 2025, Where and How Will We Grow?" The team also hit the 13th Annual Business Showcase in Sun Valley this week.

Based on estimates by consultant Bill Collins, Blaine County could grow by 10,000 residents in the next 20 years. At an open house in Ketchum on Tuesday, county planner Jeff Adams shared a couple of maps with squares of color-coded paper, a color for each zoning type to illustrate graphically how much land would be required to accommodate projected growth under current zoning. Even by taking advantage of hillside development allowed on property governed by the Mountain Overlay District, projected growth does not fit into developable land under the current zoning in the county and cities.

"It's a little exercise I do to show groups under current zoning how much land would have to be used to get 10,000 (people)," Adams said. "It's really to elicit questions and talk over what are the limitations."

Adams said when people see that the pieces of paper do not fit under current rules, people begin to realize plans need to be made. Therefore, he brings a second map that can be used to illustrate possible alternatives about how projected growth can be accommodated in the next 20 years.

Public input will be used as the county strives to complete new and revised ordinances before the end of the county's development moratorium, scheduled to come to a close after the first week of July 2006.

As part of the road show and search for public feedback, hosted by the county Planning Department and Marissa Nelson, the county taxpayer advocate, those who attend are asked to review a visual presentation on the subject of growth in the county and complete a survey.

Nelson said those who have attended the outreach events have enjoyed the exercise and she expects more participation as the word gets out.

"I think it's been going really well," she said. "People have been really excited about the idea and being involved in the process. People hope the community feedback will be used in the planning process."

Nelson said a frequent question has been about whether or not the county can look at changing ordinances to accommodate business in the county.

Currently running for a seat on the Sun Valley City Council, Dan Pincetich, former Sun Valley, was among those who went through the presentation and completed the county survey at an open house meeting at Ketchum City Hall on Tuesday.

On top of the information-gathering aspect of the road show for planning purposes, the exercise has also raised questions about whether the county is gearing up for a more regional system of government.

"I think having a regional planning system is something people are seriously beginning to talk about," Pincetich said. "It is an excellent way to deal with some of the issues in this valley. And, you can plan for them."

Planning and Zoning Commissioner Judy Harrison said she was delighted to help gather input at a county booth set up at the 13th annual Business Showcase in Sun Valley Wednesday night. She said the goal is to get public participation at the workshops and at public meetings that will result in new ordinances for the county.

"We desperately need input from the citizens of Blaine County," Harrison said.

For people who are unable to catch the road show, ending with community workshops in Ketchum and Hailey on Nov. 15, the community surveys are also available online at

Comments schedule

"Blaine County 2025, Where will we grow?"

Road Show Calendar

· Friday, Nov. 4 - Blaine County Senior Center, Hailey, at noon. Kentwood Lodge-Best Western, Ketchum, at noon.

· Monday, Nov. 7 -- Sun Valley Personnel, Old Hospital, 1 p.m.

· Wednesday, Nov. 9 -- Old County Courthouse, Hailey, at 6 p.m. American Legion Hall, Ketchum, at noon.

· Tuesday, Nov. 15 -- Ketchum City Hall at noon. Old County Courthouse, Hailey, at 6 p.m.

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