Friday, May 12, 2006

Sun Valley considers moratorium

Commercial development may be delayed

Express Staff Writer

Commercial development in Sun Valley may be on hold for another year.

The Sun Valley City Council will hold a public hearing 3 p.m. Thursday, May 25, to consider adopting an interim ordinance and moratorium in the city's Commercial Core zoning district. The ordinance would impose a moratorium on the processing of applications for subdivisions and land-use permits in the CC zone, which includes Sun Valley Village and Elkhorn Village.

"The purpose is to give us more time to amend our comprehensive plan," said Sun Valley Community Development Director Mark Hofman.

The moratorium would provide time to revise the 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update, which the city adopted last fall. The specific revisions include addressing the Gateway Land Use Planning Area (at the entrance to the city), natural resource mapping, special site descriptions and a capital improvements program.

The effort arrives in light of a proposed master development plan put forth by Sun Valley Co. in 2004. "We have no idea what Sun Valley Co. is going to do. We want to make sure all of these things are in place to govern development," Hofman said.

Efforts are under way to establish definitive criteria in relation to the mass, scale, setbacks and height in the CC district. In January, the council approved an emergency moratorium on the filing and processing of applications for any new subdivisions and land-use permits in the commercial center to revise the city's development code. The 182-day emergency moratorium expires July 5. Under Idaho law, the city cannot extend the emergency moratorium.

The city hired Winston Associates, a Colorado-based land planning firm, to work on design regulations for Sun Valley's commercial districts. The planning consultant will present recommendations at a June 8 Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

The city also retained Winston Associates to complete amendments to the comprehensive plan. The amendments include the configuration of development within the Gateway Land Use Planning Area, the "gateway" to the city along Sun Valley Road. During the approval of the 2005 Comprehensive Plan Update, considerable public input and discussion centered on density within the parcel.

"There is no agreement on where the density should go. And, there is density there ... this plan will attempt to reach consensus on where that density should go," Hofman said.

All of the areas under evaluation contain or are adjacent to sensitive natural resource areas. The planning will establish guidelines for development sensitive to natural resources such as riparian areas, steep hillsides and view corridors.

Traffic analysis and transportation assessment plans will also be conducted to assess infrastructure improvements.

If adopted, the city would have one year to review and revise the comprehensive plan. The city could repeal the ordinance before its one-year duration.

"Our intent is not to delay things for a year, but to get it done," Hofman said.

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