Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Weyyakin plan sent back to P&Z

Sun Valley Council concludes project should be downsized

Express Staff Writer

Dick Fassino, center, a Sun Valley resident whose home borders the last phase of the Weyyakin development, shares his concerns over the proposed project. Looking on, from left, are Sun Valley Councilman Nils Ribi, project landscape architect Kurt Eggers and project architect Nicholas Latham. Photo by David N. Seelig

Sun Valley City Council members decided last week to reject the Planning and Zoning Commission's recommendation to approve the preliminary plat application for the last phase of the Weyyakin subdivision.

In a 3-0 vote Thursday, April 20, the council decided to remand the project to the P&Z for further review, with specific direction to either reduce the density or the mass and scale of the project.

"The issue really comes down to how many units are appropriate," Councilman Nils Ribi said. Ribi made the motion to remand the project back to the P&Z with a list of eight modifications necessary to meet the objectives of the council.

At issue are plans to use the last remaining development rights in the Weyyakin subdivision. The housing development located just north of Elkhorn Road and east of state Highway 75 has been phased in since the late 1970s.

The final phase, proposed by Robert Smelick of California-based Stilwyn Inc., applied to develop single-family homes located on the southeastern portion of the existing subdivision, west of Weyyakin Drive and north of Elkhorn Road. Phase 4 of the development called for 19 new homes on an 8.8-acre parcel. The homes would be clustered around three separate cul-de-sacs adjacent to Weyyakin Drive.

During a previous council meeting, neighbors voiced concern over the impacts of the proposed development. Issues raised, including the mass and scale of the homes, impacts on view corridors and the proposed construction timeline prompted the council to visit the site Wednesday, April 19, during a special meeting. The council, along with the developers and neighbors, walked the grounds to assess road access and safety, sight lines, and nearness of the new clusters to existing homes.

"I think the site visit we went on yesterday was very telling," Ribi said.

After evaluating the project in the context of the neighborhood, Ribi made a motion that directed the developers to either reduce the density of all the clusters or reduce the mass and scale of the buildings. Specifically, Ribi asked for a reduction of the mass and scale on the second floors of the homes.

Anxious to make a final decision, Councilman Lud Renick said he was hesitant to delay the development and to send the application back to the P&Z.

"I just hate to dump this back on the P&Z. I think its time for us to show some guts and take some action," Renick said.

Ribi said, "Having been on P&Z for six years, I don't see this as a slap in the face to P&Z at all ... it's part of the process."

Desiring a different course of action, Jim Laski, the attorney representing Weyyakin, asked the council to deny the application rather than remand it back to the P&Z commission.

After deliberations, the council, except Councilwoman Ann Agnew who is on medical leave, agreed the P&Z should review a redesign.

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