Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Ketchum planning officials dissecting zoning code

Express Staff Writer

The Ketchum Planning & Zoning Commission is reviewing chapter by chapter, word by word, ordinances pertaining to zoning, affordable housing and parking requirements in the city's core.

"We're trying to eliminate contradictions between existing code and what the form-based code will bring into play," Commission Chairman Jack Rutherford said at a Monday, Sept. 11, meeting.

Zoning regulations through form-based codes focus on use and design rather than how much space a building takes up on its lot, or its floor area ratio.

At issue Monday was how to categorize uses like banking and real estate, and how their locations would fit into plans to reinvigorate downtown.

Rutherford said he was inclined to put them in a retail category because they had walk-in business.

City staff said such a classification would be a departure from what officials previously discussed.

"This is a major shift from what we've been talking about for more than a year now," said City Planner Beth Callister.

Commissioner Deborah Burns was reluctant to allow more opportunity for banks, which some citizens lament for their proliferation on Main Street.

"I don't think banks work in certain places," she said.

Ketchum resident Mickey Garcia voiced an idea that may be adopted into the P&Z's recommendations.

"They have to be a certain small-town scale in a multiple-use building," he said.

Real estate broker Dick Fenton noted that the reason for Ketchum's downtown building moratorium was not banks, but single-family homes being built in commercial-zoned areas.

The city is updating its code in conjunction with the downtown master plan. That plan is inching along, however, sidelined by a Nov. 7 deadline for zoning decisions.

On Election Day, voters will decide whether to approve Proposition 2, which would require cities and counties to compensate property owners if zoning decisions after that date affect property value. Since local governmental bodies can't afford to compensate property owners, most such decisions would be waived.

Aspects of the master plan are moving forward. The City Council is interviewing prospective board members for a community development corporation, which would help fund projects identified in the plan. A design committee will be appointed and meet this fall to make recommendations on a Fourth Street heritage and pedestrian corridor.

The P&Z will take up the issue of form-based codes and hotel regulations at its meeting Monday, Oct. 9.

The City Council must review and approve all ordinance changes before they are enacted.

Special meetings

Special meetings on inclusionary zoning are scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 20, and Thursday, Sept. 21. Form-based codes and hotel regulation discussions will resume Oct. 9.

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