Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Citizen requests rezone of Sunshine Parcel

Proposal would eliminate commercial uses

Express Staff Writer

Once the subject of countless hours of debate by Sun Valley planners, the high-profile Sunshine Parcel in Elkhorn might again find its way into the public eye.

"It is time for a change in the zoning," Sun Valley resident Paul Connolly said this week.

During the public comment portion of the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday, Feb. 28, Connolly articulated his request that the city change the zoning of the 4.26-acre parcel. The property is situated on the west side of Village Way between Elkhorn Village and Sunburst condominiums. It is in front of the Indian Springs condominiums and adjacent to the northern section of the new Elkhorn Springs development.

Connolly, who owns a condominium in the adjacent Ridge development, wrote a letter to the city in January to formally request the city change the zoning of the Sunshine Parcel from Commercial Center zoning to Medium Density Residential, or RM-1 zoning. He followed the written request by paying a $500 fee to the city last week and appearing before the commission Tuesday.

"The application is real," Connolly said.

The change in zoning would eliminate commercial uses of the property and reduce the density and height allowances. Density on the property would shift from 104 units to 68 units. The maximum allowance for height on the commercial-zoned site is 64 feet. The maximum height allowance in residential-zoned areas is 44 feet.

According to Connolly, approximately 50 letters were submitted to the city supporting the rezone. Following the Tuesday meeting, Sun Valley city employees denied a request from the Mountain Express to see the letters. The city did not return a phone call before press deadlines.

Connolly said his authority to request the rezone rests in city code, which states "holders of a valid interest in ... real property to be affected by a proposed change may initiate a request for a change" by filing a written application with the commission and paying an established fee. The code stipulates the commission will hold a public hearing and pass a recommendation on to the City Council.

Connolly also points out that the city's approved land-use map designates the Sunshine Parcel as Medium Density Residential.

"It is being reviewed," Community Development Director Mark Hofman said to the P&Z.

A debate over the uses of the Sunshine Parcel began with an application submitted in 2002 by Blackacre Capital Management to develop a 111-unit residential development called Sun Villas. The application was later downsized to 105 units, in September 2003 to 97 units, and in November 2004 to 83 units. The city finally tabled the application in December 2004. An amended application was submitted in June 2005 for consideration of 74 market-rate residential units.

In July 2005, the partners in the project—parcel owners Blackacre Capital Management and investors Greenfield Partners—withdrew their development application. The developers cited a desire to create a new concept that would gel better with its sister development, Elkhorn Springs.

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