Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Consultants define vision for Sun Valley

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley officials, staff, stakeholders and residents met this week with consultants to plan the future of commercial lands in the city.

"We are trying to codify for the future, and not the good guys who are with us today," said design consultant Nore Winter, of Colorado-based Winter and Co.

The city of Sun Valley hired a team of consultants to provide a comprehensive review of the city's land-use regulations in the Commercial Center zoning district. Sun Valley's commercial centers are Sun Valley Village and Elkhorn Village, which are zoned to allow a mixture of commercial and residential uses.

The consultants met with city officials and the public Wednesday and Thursday, April 5 and 6, to work on a strategy for the infill and redevelopment of the city's commercial centers.

Sun Valley contracted Winter, Jeff Winston, principal of Winston Associates, a Colorado-based land planning firm, and Lee Einsweiler, development codes director of Texas-based Duncan Associates, in March 2006 for approximately $35,000 to work on design regulations for Sun Valley's commercial areas.

"The city of Sun Valley has a moratorium to write the mass and scale guidelines for Sun Valley Resort and Elkhorn," said Virginia Egger, city administrator.

Sun Valley implemented an emergency moratorium in January on the processing of applications for subdivisions and land-use permits in the city's CC districts. The moratorium, which expires in July, allows for review of mass, scale, setbacks and height land-use regulations.

To begin the review, the consultants engaged attendees to express what they value in Sun Valley. Mayor Jon Thorson said he values the alpine village elegance. Others valued architectural design, preservation of view corridors and open space ambiance.

Winter said, "We are trying to be positive and proactive to encourage what we want to happen."

The discussion articulated differing characters for commercial centers at Sun Valley Village core and the Elkhorn area.

"There are two animals with a spilt personality," Winter said.

The work to establish more structure between policy and regulation comes in light of Sun Valley Co. plans to develop two hotels in the Sun Valley Village core.

Although construction is under way to redevelop the site of the former Elkhorn Resort, the consultants emphasized future redevelopment in Elkhorn, possibly on land occupied by condominiums that are located within the commercial zone.

The consultants utilized computer renderings to illustrate the overall building potential that could occur in the city, which prompted thoughtful consideration of the city's desired building standards.

The consultants will likely deliver a draft of standards for the Planing and Zoning Commission's consideration in May.

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