Wednesday, October 11, 2006

P&Z mangles downtown plan

The Ketchum Planning and Zoning Commission took a wrecking ball to the foundation of the Downtown Plan Monday.

Its five members mangled what had been a carefully balanced plan for development of commercial spaces, high-end and middle-income residences.

They dismissed a year's work by the city's own planning department and nearly $200,000 of advice from experts.

They ignored hundreds of hours of public comments from citizens and leaders who called for a downtown overhaul.

Most of the P&Z had religiously avoided much contact with the downtown planning process and expert planners.

It showed.

Monday, they proved they don't have a clue about the local economy or the need for multiple-use buildings downtown.

They proved blind and deaf to the exodus of the middle class from Ketchum and to businesses crying for employees and affordable rents. They seemed not to care that shuttered residential buildings have taken over the town.

Driven by fear of "big buildings" the P&Z addressed nothing but this fear.

Its ham-handed ordinance would further only the vision of Ketchum as a Crippled Pygmy full of tiny buildings useful to no one surrounded and held captive by Amazons—the valley's enormous homes.

The mayor and City Council should refuse to accept any plan as out of whack as the one recommend by the P&Z.

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