Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Weyyakin developer and Sun Valley may settle

Tentative agreement awaits council approval

Express Staff Writer

The city of Sun Valley and the developer for the last remaining development rights in the Weyyakin subdivision have reached a tentative agreement to complete the project.

The Sun Valley City Council will decide Thursday, Sept. 21, whether to approve a mediated settlement that calls for the proposed subdivision to move forward with minor design changes. An approval would cause a pending lawsuit against the city to be withdrawn.

If ratified by the City Council, the parties will have settled the dispute through mediation held in August. Last month, Judge D. Duff McKee mediated a settlement between the city and the developer. The settlement calls for modifications to building setbacks and changes in design of some proposed units.

The mediation process included the developer, representatives of Sun Valley, including Mayor Jon Thorson, Weyyakin homeowners and the Weyyakin Homeowner's Association.

The settlement comes after the developer for the housing project, located just north of Elkhorn Road and east of state Highway 75, challenged the City Council's decision to remand the application to the Planning and Zoning Commission for further review.

At issue is the subdivision's final phase, proposed by Robert Smelick of Idaho-based Stilwyn Inc. The company applied to develop single-family homes on the southeastern portion of the existing subdivision, west of Weyyakin Drive and north of Elkhorn Road. The development's fourth phase called for 19 new homes on an 8.8-acre parcel. The homes would be clustered around three separate cul-de-sacs adjacent to Weyyakin Drive. The subdivision has been phased-in since the late 1970s.

The council rejected the P&Z's recommendation to approve the last phase, specifically requesting that the developer either reduce the density or the mass and scale of the buildings.

The developer then appealed the council's remand to the 5th District Court in Hailey.

The remand came in light of concerns expressed by neighbors during city meetings over the mass and scale of the homes, impacts on view corridors and the proposed construction timeline.

Neighbors remain concerned over the settlement agreement, as stated in letters to the City Council.

"The agreement basically thumbs its nose at what the City Council had recommended in their original remand to the P&Z," said Dick Fassino, a Sun Valley resident.

The mediation settlement provides increased separation of some units from the property lines through a change in building design. The agreement also establishes that the developer will provide funds for a bus stop or build the structure in the city's right-of-way at Elkhorn Road and Weyyakin Drive.

And it stipulates that the developer will pay all costs of the mediator.

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