Friday, September 15, 2006

Panel recommends preservation of history

Sun Valley Co. objects to new layer of regulation

Express Staff Writer

The Sun Valley Historic Preservation Commission discusses which buildings in the city should be deemed historic during a meeting this week at The Community Library in Ketchum. Photo by Chris Pilaro

On Aug. 11, 1937, Averill Harriman signed architectural drawings for Sun Valley Resort's Challenger Inn. This week, the historic plans served as the backdrop as the Sun Valley Historic Preservation Commission recommended the city preserve its heritage.

The commission unanimously voted Tuesday, Sept. 12, to recommend the City Council establish a historical protection district, designate certain structures in the city as historic and establish design guidelines for changes to historic buildings.

"The city, under state code, has the power to recognize historic properties," City Attorney Adam King said.

The commission convened at The Community Library in Ketchum this week with the city's consultant, Nore Winter, of Winter & Co., a Boulder, Colo.-based planning and urban design firm, to further discuss which buildings in the city of Sun Valley should be designated as historic.

The commission agreed to designate the Sun Valley Lodge, Sun Valley Inn, Sun Valley Opera House, Sun Valley outdoor ice rink, Sun Valley dam, Trail Creek Cabin, the red barn at the entrance to the city, the Sun Valley Horsemen's Center barn and the Idaho Power building at the entrance to town as historic buildings. The Hemingway Memorial on Trail Creek Road, Proctor Mountain and Ruud Mountain were designated as historic sites.

The commission decided against including the Harriman Cottage and other cottages on Sun Valley Co. property as historic buildings. To evaluate the properties, individual survey forms were prepared for each one. The forms used guidelines from the Idaho State Historical Society.

The effort evoked criticism from Sun Valley Co. Wally Huffman.

"The end result of this is you have one more review body and review process over (resort owner) Mr. (Earl) Holding," Huffman said. He also opposed the city's race to establish new planning and zoning codes in light of Proposition 2, a proposed statewide initiative to limit land-use regulations. The city fears the ability to protect historic structures may be lost if the measure passes in November.

Although Sun Valley Co., the owner of the majority of lands under review, has no official role in the process, the city invited the company to take part in discussions.

"Mr. Holding has been a steward since 1977 of this land. Everything he has done has been magnificent ... It's not a matter of trusting Mr. Holding. It's a matter of putting in place ordinances to protect our community should Mr. Holding move on," Sun Valley Mayor Jon Thorson said.

Later, Huffman suggested the Sun Valley Horsemen's Center barn and the Sun Valley dam, structures not previously under the commission's consideration, be added to the list.

The commission also voted unanimously to establish a historical protection district, which generally includes the Sun Valley Village area. Under the district, exterior changes to historic buildings would be subject to review of the commission. The commission must grant a certificate of appropriateness for exterior changes to be made.

The City Council must pass an ordinance to institute the recommendations.

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