Wednesday, July 19, 2006

City housing plan irks developer


By REBECCA MEANY
Express Staff Writer

Disagreement over the extent of Ketchum's plans to develop a city-owned parking lot sparked an impromptu discussion on the issue at Monday's Ketchum City Council meeting.

Ketchum developer Henry Dean expressed dissatisfaction with the city's use of a local architect to sketch a design for a housing structure and parking garage at Sixth Street and Leadville Avenue.

"I'm simply very, very concerned," Dean said. "What is the breadth of this assignment? I think we're overlooking the Planning & Zoning Commission."

He noted that the plan posed a visual problem for people in the adjacent Leadville Terrace building, which he developed with his wife, Linda Badell.

"It's to the extreme detriment of people who bought those units," he said. "They need to be heard."

But Ketchum Mayor Randy Hall pointed out that every new construction project impacts the views of neighboring properties.

"Whoever owns property is going to develop it to its fullest potential," Hall added. "You did it to residents (behind) the alley."

Hall said Dale Bates, architect and president of Ketchum-based Living Architecture, was working with Forsgren Associates, a firm that contracts with the city for engineering services. Bates created sketches for the site as part of a feasibility study of what that site could accommodate and how much it would cost.

Hall added that the city made no secret of its plans to develop that site and said plans for a parking garage there have been in the capital improvement program for several years.

Dean, however, said the project was moving ahead behind closed doors.

"The taxpayers own the property," he said. "We should have an opportunity to comment. I don't believe we should be hiring professionals without a (request for proposals)."

The city, like developers, is waiting for the outcome of the regulatory aspects of the downtown master plan before proceeding with development plans, Hall said.

"We're in the same boat (as developers)," he said. "We're waiting for the form-based code to (be approved)."

Councilwoman Terry Tracy defended the drawings.

"We need to present people with a plan and a vision," she said. "Then it goes through the process like every other project."




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