Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Townhome project survives P&Z debate

Express Staff Writer

With two Ketchum Planning & Zoning Commissioners absent and one recused, a townhome project was sent to the City Council by the two remaining commissioners.

Jack Bariteau, representing his interests in Stevenson Ketchum Fund LLC, presented revised plans to build a two-building, 10-unit residential development adjacent to Trail Creek, on the corner of Second Street and Walnut Avenue.

Three applications are on file with the city: a partial vacation of First Street, a rezone from General Residential-Low Density to General Residential-High Density, and a design review for a sewer line relocation.

Commissioners determined that the development agreement rezone met the conditions for approval.

"I like the project," said Commissioner Greg Strong. "I think it's a long building, (but) there's a lot of undulation, a lot of variety in roof lines."

The existing zoning would require a different, less attractive configuration, Bariteau said.

"We're going for ... what really is the best aesthetic for this," he said. "This is a much better urban design solution than what's permitted in the current zone."

Amenities proposed by the developer include improvements to Walnut Avenue and a staircase leading into an undeveloped city park adjacent to Trail Creek, a path leading from the park to Wood River Land Trust-owned property upstream and a two-bedroom affordable housing unit.

Multiple neighbors, however, spoke against the project, citing issues such as increased traffic in the alley where homes would face, headlights shining into bedroom windows, too much building mass, and having one large affordable unit instead of two small ones.

The Blaine-Ketchum Housing Authority supports the project and the larger unit.

Attorney Barry Luboviski, representing adjacent development, the Lodges at Trail Creek, said the project is too big for the lot. At the end of the meeting he alleged a process violation, setting the stage for possible legal action.

Commissioner Jack Rutherford is involved in The Lodges and has recused himself from the issue.

Commissioner Deborah Burns reluctantly recommended approval of the rezone, citing both her inexperience in zoning minutiae and neighbors' concerns over the project.

She moved the application forward, however, based on its compliance with the city's comprehensive plan and the way it fits into the downtown master plan.

The P&Z recommended approval of the street vacation last month.

Design review was postponed until Aug. 28.

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